The West Michigan Whitecaps (Low A; Midwest League) are poised to host larger non-gameday events, as the team is considering a capacity increase for concerts at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Teams across Minor League Baseball are increasingly utilizing concerts as a way to open ballparks for more events, and the Whitecaps have been a part of that trend. As it stands, Fifth Third Ballpark is a logical fit for outdoor concerts in the Grand Rapids area. With the current layout for concerts in the infield, the Whitecaps can host roughly 8,500 spectators.
The next logical step, according to Whitecaps CFO Denny Baxter, is to look at using the entire field. Right now the team is looking what it would take to comfortably stage concerts using the whole field, which would increase the concert capacity to over 16,000, making it one of the largest outdoor venues in the region.
Currently the team is cleared by Plainfield Township to host concerts at Fifth Third Ballpark, so long as they do not violate curfew and noise ordinances set by the planning commission. Therefore the team can explore a capacity increase on its own, though it has notified local officials that a larger-capacity concert could be hosted at the ballpark as early as this fall. More from MiBiz.com:
In a letter submitted to the Planning Commission, Baxter made mention of a “possible large scale concert” on Sept. 24 with Detroit-based rapper Eminem, but told MiBiz the mention of the artist was meant to serve as “an example of someone we’d take a look at.” The organization has not yet reached out to Eminem’s management about the potential for having the 15-time Grammy Award winner play Fifth Third Ballpark, he said.
“The Planning Commission wanted us to give an example,” Baxter said. “We thought he was a good one as an artist who has not played West Michigan, but who has sold out Comerica (Park in Detroit) to large crowds. We want to demonstrate to them that this is what we’re shooting for.”
That said, once the team sets a reasonable concert capacity for the ballpark, it will look to fill the calendar with a concert on Sept. 24, “an open, available date for us,” according to Baxter.
In previous seasons, Fifth Third Ballpark has hosted several headline acts, including Justin Bieber, Jason Aldean, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan.