The Van Andel Arena opened in the fall of 1996 at a cost of $75 million. The arena opened with tremendous community support of its diverse programming. After only a few months in operation, the facility was headed toward an operating surplus for its inaugural year, bolstered by a strong SMG management team, the success of numerous concerts and family shows, and its professional team tenants, the IHL (now AHL) Grand Rapids Griffins and the AFL Arena Bowl XV Champions The Grand Rapids Rampage.

The Van Andel Arena has emerged as one of Western Michigan’s primary sources for entertainment with a steady flow of big name acts, theatrical productions and home sports teams.