GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's been more than a year since a full capacity crowd has cheered on their favorite artist at the Van Andel Arena.
"I think what we've really tried to do is outside of COVID make the environment more safe, more clean," says Rich MacKeigan with ASM Grand Rapids. "More touchless experiences for the guests and hand sanitizer, more cleaning."
That includes the installation of a new air filtration system. "It cleans it to eliminate COVID but it also eliminates the flu and viruses and everything else so it creates a much healthier environment aside from COVID and that's really what we try to focus on," explains MacKeigan.
There are also new contactless concession stands that MacKeigan says uses a QR Code for ordering and paying, "And through this app it makes it really really simple to order your food from your seats. We text you when it's ready, pick it up at the concession stand, you don't have to worry about the lines."
All of the efforts are getting a dry run with Griffins Hockey game fans and that's a good thing because MacKeigan says their first full capacity concert scheduled for January 2022 is expected to be a big one. "Being that Eric Church is the first show announced, it's good fortune."
Good fortune because Eric Church has a history of selling out the Van Andel Arena in minutes.
Scott Hammontree with The Intersection is well aware that country music artist Eric Church has a special place in his heart for Grand Rapids. "Eric has been one who has never forgotten about The Intersection," he said.
The Intersection is where Eric Church had his first ever sellout concert in 2009. "That moment on that stage with 1,500 people in here and you're just starting to become a star. Eric has never forgotten that I think," recalls Hammontree.
Eric has mentioned The Intersection in national interviews both in print and on CMT. He also gives a shout out to Hammontree at every Van Andel Arena show he plays. "I just get texts and calls all night long, 'Hey Scott he just said your name!' 'Hey Scott he has The Intersection shirt on.'"
Even though Eric Church has moved on to bigger venues like the Van Andel Arena, his fans can always count on Eric remembering that Grand Rapids was where his career went to that next level.
Tickets for Eric Church go on sale Friday, May 7 at 10 a.m.
If you'd like to hear more about why Eric Church has a soft spot for Grand Rapids, I've put my entire interview with The Intersection's Scott Hammontree on the 13 On Your Side YouTube Channel.
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