Grand Rapids to decide on fate of huge motorcycle event Tuesday

Feb 14, 2011

Organizers want to see a huge event for motorcycle enthusiasts in downtown Grand Rapids this summer. They've made a number of concessions to try and convince the city commission to allow the now 4-day event.

River City Bike Week organizers hope to attract up to 60,000 people to check out bike builders, stunts, races, and concerts. But several commissioners and downtown business leaders are worried about noise, traffic, and the potential disruption of business the event may cause.

Doug Small is President of Experience Grand Rapids, the visitors and convention bureau for the region. He’s received many emails and phone calls from hotel owners in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area about the proposed event.

 “The vast majority, not all, but the vast majority encouraging us to be very supportive of this event coming in because they’ve got capacity and they want to fill their hotel rooms and my job is to help them fill their hotel rooms.”

Small wrote a letter to city commission reflecting those opinions. He says there's a 53% occupancy rate at hotels in Kent County and they'd like to fill them.

"This is unique in that it is asking for a lot of things that some people say could disrupt commerce and I’m sensitive. I don’t live downtown but I’m very sensitive to those folks and the noise that they’re going to have. I owned a bike; I’ve been to these events when I lived in California. They’re noisy, there’s no doubt about it folks, it’s not going to be a quiet time in Grand Rapids."

If the city allows the event, River City Bike Week organizer Tracy Holt says part of the proceeds would benefit a the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation that helps give Grand Rapids students the tools they need to succeed.