Personal touches and flexibility bring events to Kellogg Arena

Editor’s Note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave’s On the Ground Calhoun County series.

Weddings probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the Kellogg Arena, but last weekend the venue hosted a wedding celebration attended by 600 people, says Kelly Walden , responsible for sales and marketing for the venue.

“We have basics in our calendar and I’m building around that with community events, concerts, comedy shows and weddings,” says Walden. “We also have political and religious events,” like the rally that former President Donald Trump attended in 2019 and the annual Community Prayer Breakfast. “As long as it’s something appropriate, we’ll host it.” The ability to host such a wide range of events is testament to the flexibility of the arena which opened in 1981.”

Sporting events, both amateur and professional, constitute the bulk of the events reserved for the arena. Jay Gladstone, Sales Manager for the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau, says those events include the Michigan High School Athletic Association State Volleyball Championships; gymnastic competitions; and joy and dance contests.

“I go to a lot of different trade shows where I meet people who organize sporting events,” Gladstone explains. “I take our information and marketing materials and get appointments with people who organize gymnastics, basketball or other sporting events and let them know what types of services CCVB has to offer and what we can do for them.”

Kelly Walden is Kellogg Arena’s Head of Sales and Marketing.During these discussions, Gladstone mentions sponsorship opportunities to host events and the many “fun” activities available in Calhoun County, including Binder Park Zoo and Full Blast.

This is how Gladstone was able to win over the Great Lakes Ice Cream and Fast-Food Association (GLIC + FFA) in Battle Creek for its annual convention and trade show in 2019. The organization had held its event in Lansing. Gladstone says a key selling point was that the arena was connected to the McCamly Plaza Hotel, eliminating the need to travel to the convention and trade show.

Since the temporary closure of the hotel to complete a $60 million renovationGuests at the GLIC+FFA event stayed at the Holiday Inn on Harper Village Drive, Gladstone and his team set up shuttles and other services to accommodate attendees.

The McCamly Hotel is expected to reopen in late summer 2023. Gladstone says it expects an increase in the number of events the CCVB can attract to Battle Creek and Calhoun County once the hotel is fully operational. operational.

“There aren’t many places where you can find a 6,200-seat arena right next to a hotel. Before the hotel closed, this was a main selling point. You don’t have to go anywhere or drive anywhere and you can walk downtown and visit all the little shops there.”

However, it’s the extra personal touches that also go a long way in bringing organizations and their event planners back to Battle Creek.

Branch Gymnastics hosts gymnastics competitions, like this one at Kellogg Arena.“We got the mayor and our state officials to issue a proclamation for the GLIC+FAA. It’s the little things we can do in our city to welcome people back that are key to keeping them coming back year after year,” says Gladstone. “We are always doing things to keep these events here and to keep the organizers happy.”

In 2023, the arena will have a brand new sports field for the MHSAA volleyball tournament.

“That’s the big thing in volleyball. It is a different material from wood. It’s also a huge thing to help attract people to gymnastics events,” says Gladstone. “The continuous improvements we make help to organize these events.”

Walden says there will always be some type of upgrade or improvement project going on at the arena. These include an all-new box office that should be ready next year, updated lighting, and two digital boards that can be used at various events such as Travis Tritt’s recent concert.

Volleyball and gymnastics events, which usually take place on weekends, attract thousands of people while newer arena events, such as week-long pool tournaments, attract a steady stream of people. people during the week, he said.

“We have an average of four events per month. We try to look for multi-day events,” says Walden. “Weekday events are always nice as we’re not as busy and you can get good hotel rates.”

Jay Gladstone is the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau Sales Manager.In addition to more traditional events, Gladstone says the arena finds its way into one-of-a-kind events featuring bullfights, monster trucks, arm wrestling and a Renaissance Fair scheduled for 2023. Walden says that there was also talk of securing a fencing event.

September through May are the busiest times for the arena which is booked out just about every weekend, Walden says. Four full-time staff work alongside part-time concessions and maintenance staff to ensure events run smoothly.

“If we don’t have events, we turn the arena around for upcoming events,” she says. “We are also hosting events over the summer at Festival Market Square and Friendship Park in conjunction with the city.”

These events include Five-a-side atmosphere live music and shows from post band.

“Spring events allow us to keep running constantly. We definitely want to have more concerts and community events,” says Walden.

In this file photo from earlier this year, 13-year-old George Pyatt receives a Pfizer COVID vaccine booster at Kellogg Arena.Events at the arena have a multi-million dollar impact on the city and county, she says.

“With a concert, at least half of the people who go there will be eating before or after at local restaurants, with some staying at local hotels and shopping at our stores and boutiques,” says Walden. “A lot of people think that if we don’t have a concert, nothing happens here, but there is always something happening and something for everyone happening here.”

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