GR closer to hosting some March Madness

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A group from the NCAA toured Van Andel Arena and the rest of the city Friday to check out Grand Rapids as a possible host for NCAA basketball tournament games.


The West Michigan Sports Commission is working with Michigan State University to try to land the "First Four" in either 2014 or 2015.


This is the second time Grand Rapids has tried to land those games. The last time was for a 2011, 2012 or 2013 tournament, and the city paired that time with Western Michigan University.


West Michigan Sports Commission executive director Mike Guswiler said the fact that the city is bidding for a second time shows continued interest and can only be a plus.


NCAA reps made sure to check out the facilities at Van Andel Arena for the teams, press and ticketholders.


“You have to have the venue that can accommodate that specific tournament and the NCAA knows what they want, and so [the arena] was at the top of the list and that was where we spent most of the time,” said West Michigan Sports Commission executive director Mike Guswiler.


A big difference this bid is that the NCAA has lowered its mandatory number of paid seats arenas needs to hold -- dropping it from 12,00 to 10,000. That's an easier number for the Van Andel Arena to meet.


“We’re competing against like-sized markets, like-sized venues, probably some venues that may have more seats,” said Guswiler. “But really the seats that would be sold or required and needed we fit right in there.”


The mere fact that an NCAA rep showed up to tour the city means the city has already gotten farther than in previous bids.


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Media Contacts

West Michigan Sports Commission:

Katy Tigchelaar

Kim Skeltis, Blue Blaze PR

Meijer State Games of Michigan:

Eric Engelbarts, II

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