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Stadium capacity exceeds estimates

Alex Doty • Jul 14, 2018 at 9:00 AM

It has been four weeks since the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium opened to the public, and the city now has a clearer picture of how many people can fit inside the space.

A recent Worship on the Waterfront event presented city officials with an opportunity to see the stadium at working capacity. So, Assistant City Manager Vester Davis launched a drone from Grand Haven’s north shore to take aerial photos of the large crowd that gathered at the July 8 event.

A print of an aerial photo was enlarged at City Hall and divided into quadrants, and the concert crowd was individually counted by management intern Ashley Latsch. The result of her count: More people can fit inside the stadium than originally thought.

“The stadium itself, we’re comfortable saying the seating capacity is 3,000,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “It’s green and nice, and it can hold more people.”

That figure includes the portable bleachers that can be added or removed. It doesn’t include people who sit outside the stadium in areas like the Brass River Plaza or lawn areas, which would likely boost the figure to 3,500, officials say.

“I’m not too surprised, but I am very pleased,” McGinnis said. “We can accommodate more people than we could before, which is a nice bonus.”

The city estimated that the old Waterfront Stadium could accommodate as many as 2,500 people. When initially designed, the new stadium was expected to reach capacity at 1,800.

Planners used a conservative approach to anticipate the capacity, designating a 3-by-3-foot spot for each person. The city also added bleacher units for the stadium, creating an additional 400 seats, rounding out the total seating capacity estimate to 2,200.

“It has been a significant point of concern for many people,” McGinnis said.

He noted that the new information should alleviate any worries about whether there would be trouble attracting events to the space or retaining old events due to a change in capacity.

“A picture is definitely worth a thousand words in this case,” McGinnis said.

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