the Grand Rapids Gold is working with downtown entertainment officials to see if Van Andel Arena could be the new site for the minor league basketball team, according to a team executive.
The team is actively looking for a new arena following an announcement today that the DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center in Walker closes at the end of July. The Gold — a National Basketball Association G-League team that operated as Grand Rapids Drive for its first seven seasons — has called the DeltaPlex home since 2014.
“That 6,000 (capacity) that was at the DeltaPlex is really in our wheelhouse for size,” said team founder and president Steve Jbara, suggesting Van Andel Arena would be a likely candidate for a new venue. . “There aren’t really that many around, and if there are, you can’t sell booze or the dates are tough.” So I don’t think you will be shocked by the place we found.
A representative with Global ASMwhich runs the 12,000-capacity Van Andel Arena, declined to comment.
Jbara spoke with MiBiz following an announcement today from DeltaPlex President Joel Langlois that his site will cease operations effective July 31. Langlois sold the property on December 23, 2021 for $5.5 million to DEG Development Co. LLCwhich is registered with Visser Development Inc. co-owner Bruce Visser.
A representative for Visser Development declined to comment for this story.
Jbara said Langlois informed him about a month ago that the arena – located at 2500 Turner Ave. NW – would close operations this summer, sending Jbara and his staff to search for a comparable location.
The Gold needs a venue that meets the criteria established by the NBA G-League, including furnished locker rooms for teams, coaches and officials. While the league was strict about including certain equipment, none of the requests were “exaggerated”, Jbara said.
The practice of gold Calvin Universitywhich includes a venue that Jbara says would be the perfect size for the team’s needs, but the team would not be allowed to sell alcohol on-site.
Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids is the clear favorite. Jbara said the Gold was working with arena officials to determine if the lineup would be feasible.
“We tried to work with (Van Andel Arena) and the league on some flexibility and to understand the scheduling process,” Jbara said. “For example, we need around 65 takes to build our 24-game (home) schedule.”
Playing home games in downtown Grand Rapids, as opposed to the DeltaPlex about 4 miles north of Walker, has a few distinct advantages, including walk-in customers, Jbara said.
“Every person who came to a game (at the DeltaPlex) was an attraction for us,” Jbara said. “And the other thing is the students. At the DeltaPlex, we didn’t really have transportation. Buses didn’t go there for kids to come from Allendale or Calvin.
The Gold is in the first year of a three-year deal as an NBA affiliate with the Denver Nuggets. The Gold was once affiliated with the Detroit Pistons, who only committed to short-term deals at a time, according to Jbara.
This summer, Jbara expects the Gold to sign an extension with the Nuggets — who are currently down three games to one against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs — to usher in the stability of a long term agreement.
“The Nuggets really gave us the flexibility to call it a long-term partnership,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to invest in a place and maybe try a place that we’ve already looked at and weren’t sure yet if we were right.”
Meanwhile, the DeltaPlex will close its doors after 25 years of hosting various sporting events, concerts and conventions. Langlois cited the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public event closures as the main reason for his decision.
“During this period, many of our expenses have not stopped while we saw little or no revenue,” Langlois said in a statement to media today. “The few events and uses of the facilities during this time were, for the most part, done without any expectation of rent and were done as part of our civic obligation to give back to our community during a difficult time.”
“Even though the last few years have been difficult, the decision to close has been difficult,” added Langlois.
Editor-in-chief Kate Carlson and editor Andy Balaskovitz contributed to this story.