GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Some of the top high school basketball teams in the state are facing off in Van Andel Arena this week.
Normally home to hockey or concerts, on Wednesday, high school girls graced the parquet for the first competitive basketball game held at the downtown Grand Rapids arena since 2017.
Aside from a Harlem Globetrotters game in 2020, the last basketball game played at Van Andel was back in the fall of 2017, when the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team went up against the University of Georgia in a charity exhibition match.
“Van Andel really stepped in and provided us an opportunity to have another really great facility, and an opportunity to allow more fans into games by being able to split up some divisions,” MHSAA Communications Director Geoff Kimmerly told FOX 17.
Baskets are going back up in part because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The semifinal games are split between Grand Rapids and the Breslin Center at MSU to fit games in on a tight schedule.
And the Michigan High School Athletic Association says because of the arena’s 10,000-person capacity, more family members and fans are able to watch on from the stands.
“At most, there will be 750 fans at each game, and they'll be spaced out and everything will be done to make sure that surfaces remain clean and people remain distanced from each other,” Kimmerly added.
It's a socially distanced cheering section for the long-awaited return for basketball in Van Andel.
“I think there's a lot of excitement. We're excited,” Kimmerly added.
The Division 2 and Division 4 boys' teams will play semifinal games at the arena on Thursday.
To see highlights from Wednesday’s game, click here.