MUSKEGON — L.C. Walker Arena will become Mercy Health Arena at the end of the year under a $1.5 million sponsorship deal between the city of Muskegon and the health system.
Mercy Health will pay $100,000 annually for 15 years for the naming rights to the 4,000-seat arena in downtown Muskegon that opened in 1960.
In announcing the deal this morning, Mercy Health Muskegon CEO Gary Allore said the arena sponsorship fits with the Catholic health system’s mission to “to serve together in the spirit of the Gospel as a compassionate and transforming healing presence.”
“When you test the idea of partnering with the city and this community, this is certainly a transformation,” Allore said. “The revitalization of downtown and the transformation of the downtown and this arena fits perfectly with our mission statement for Mercy Health Muskegon.”
Mercy Health is the largest employer in Muskegon and has an athletic and training center next door to the arena. The health system also sponsors the annual Seaway Run through downtown.
The question of whether to do the sponsorship was a “quick ‘yes’ and quickly supported in organization,” Allore said.
“We’ve already been a big part of the downtown and part of the community, and we just feel like this is a natural next step for us,” he said.
The city has made “some pretty big investments” in L.C. Walker Arena in the last for years, City Manager Frank Peterson said. The $4 million in upgrades include a new roof and heating and cooling systems, he said.
A restaurant, Rad Dads’ Tacos & Tequila Bar, also was added to the facility, “and we plan on having another restaurant in here very, very soon,” according to Peterson.
“The commitment to the landmark here is essential for the vibrancy of our downtown and the vibrancy of our community,” Peterson said. “We think that we are positioned to have one of the very, very best local, small, mid-sized-market arenas in all of the United States.”
L.C. Walker Arena is home to the minor league hockey team Muskegon Lumberjacks, Muskegon Risers SC of the Major Arena Soccer League 2, and the West Michigan Ironmen indoor football team.
The name change to Mercy Health Arena takes effect at the end of the year. Signage will change in January, Peterson said.