$200K carrot dangled to keep Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place manager on the job
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention and Arena Authority (CAA) wants to make sure Richard MacKeigan, general manager for the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Convention Center sticks around.
The authority has created an “Executive Director Longevity Incentive Plan” that will pay MacKeigan $200,000 plus interest in five years.
That’s assuming he’s still on the job five years from and has not been recruited elsewhere. The carrot will be taken away if MacKeigan takes another job.
MacKeigan said his 19-year stint in Grand Rapids has been “spectacular” and considers himself lucky to have been part of the city’s growth.
“It’s a very very rare when I get up in the morning and don’t feel like going to work,” said MacKeigan. “I look forward to the next 20 years and what life brings to Grand Rapids.”
CAA Chairman Steve Heacock promoted the plan, saying he credits MacKeigan for the success of the 20-year-old arena and the convention center, which opened in 2003.
“The CAA has experienced tremendous — really spectacular — success over Rich’s tenure, well beyond what anyone expected at the beginning,” said Heacock. “Given Rich’s national stature, he has many opportunities elsewhere; we do not want to lose him.”
Last year, the Van Andel Arena was the smallest venue to bring in former Beatle Paul McCartney and hosted six Garth Brooks concerts in four days. Kanye West and Elton John also staged sell-out shows.
MacKeigan was given the “Hall of Headlines Award” by Venues Today magazine, one of the industry’s most prestigious awards.
SMG, which manages more than 230 convention centers and arenas worldwide, was hired in August 1994 by the city of Grand Rapids to manage the Grand Center, which was expanded into the DeVos Place convention center.
MacKeigan, who has managed the two facilities for SMG since 1998, also serves as a regional manager for SMG with oversight over other Midwest properties.
Heacock said the CAA also will lean on MacKeigan’s expertise over the next five years if it decides to go through with a proposal to build a 24-story convention hotel on property currently used by the convention center.
“Rich has done and will be asked to do significant work for the CAA beyond the norm for an SMG executive director,” Heacock said. Replacing MacKeigan would be expensive and disruptive, he said.
Canadian-born MacKeigan and his family have made themselves at home in West Michigan. In 2012, he and his wife, Terri, became U.S. citizens.
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