WOODTV reported on an expansion project that is planned for Van Andel Arena, downtown Grand Rapids, which will make the Fulton Street, main entrance look a LOT different than it does today.

According to WOODTV, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority who oversees improvements to the arena, which opened in 1996, plans to make the area in front of the arena more of a “green space” area, instead of the ugly sidewalk that's the current look.

The improvements will add some sloping grassy areas and benches where people can sit and hang out,  along with trees and planters.

The new look will have more of a plaza look, than the barren look it currently has.

It will also provide some much need security since the current layout does nothing to prevent a vehicle from jumping the curb and driving into a crowd waiting to enter the arena or just plowing through the giant glass front of the arena.

WOODTV says the other project in this renovation/expansion is to create a “café type-setting” in the alleyway between the arena and businesses on Ionia Avenue.  Currently, the alleyway is only used for deliveries and trash pickup. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., is working with the Convention Arena Authority and businesses to figure out how to hide what they need to do business while cleaning up an area of downtown for visitors.

The project is going to cost around $1 million and will be paid for by DGRI, with the tax they receive from downtown businesses for improvement, and the county hotel/motel tax the CAA receives for area improvements, WOODTV reports.

The final plans will be announced in August, WOODTV says the project will take about a year to complete once started.