Public Funds, Private Profits: How Grand Rapids is Building a New Soccer Stadium

It looks like Grand Rapids is getting a new soccer stadium. At least that’s the plan of Grand Action 2.0, a city development group helmed by DeVos, a Van Andel, and a president at 5/3 Bank. This new stadium, which will have the capacity for up to 8,500 visitors, will be funded mainly through public funds and a tax hike, with the vague promise that it will pay for itself some time in the next 30 years. 

The stadium will be built on a 7 acre plot of land just outside of downtown in West Grand Rapids. With that much space, the city could build around 1,000 much needed housing units, but with the addition of a stadium that number is reduced by half. Grand Action 2.0 is claiming that their stadium will “unlock the potential for 500 to 550 future housing units in the immediate area.” This allows them to present the false idea that the construction of this new housing is conditioned on whether the stadium gets built. All this, in the midst of Grand Rapids’ clear housing crisis with a need for 14,106 housing units by 2027, is a risky move.

Concept art for proposed soccer stadium

The most important thing to note about this project is that a large percentage of its cost will be covered by public funds, around 65%, or 115 million dollars for the stadium alone. As of right now, it is unclear how much of the stadium’s net revenue will go directly to replenishing those funds, if any at all. 

Future neighbors of the soccer stadium have also brought up concerns of noise, traffic, parking and a spike in housing costs. So far very little has been done to address these concerns, seemingly showing a further lack of planning from the City Commission and Grand Action 2.0.

One of our core ideals is using our common resources to guarantee the Right to Housing, but the way Grand Action 2.0 has structured this deal is very concerning. Grand Action is very careful throughout their literature to refer to the new apartment units only as potential new housing. Public funds footing so much of the bill proves that at any point our government could fund the construction of social housing, but it chooses not to. 

A new soccer stadium that supports local and youth soccer would be a fantastic addition to the community. We just hope that the city will keep in mind that, right now, affordable housing and keeping public funds for public projects are the actual priorities, and should come before a new soccer stadium drawn up at the whim of billionaires.