UPDATE: West Michigan Whitecaps officials have stated they plan to be ready to host this year’s Winter Beer Festival. Michigan Brewers Guild Executive Director Scott Graham has also released the following statement:
“We have been in contact with our friends at Fifth Third Ballpark since the unfortunate fire which damaged a portion of the property and we are happy to report that all ballpark staff are safe and unharmed. We have also been assured that as they work through the rebuilding process they will be ready to host the Winter Beer Festival February 22, 2014 as planned. We wish them all the best.”
COMSTOCK PARK — The location of this year’s Winter Beer Festival may be in question just six weeks before the Mitten’s largest beer gathering.
Fifth Third Ballpark caught fire today around 11 a.m., according to WZZM-TV. Firefighters from several municipal departments are still fighting the blaze, the Grand Rapids news station reported.
A source tells MittenBrew that the fire was out as of 1:30 today, thanks to the work of nearly 50 firefighters from five departments during a two and half hour effort.
The Michigan Brewers Guild has sold more than 6,000 tickets for the Feb. 22 event. Executive Director Scott Graham did not speculate on the Guild’s plans for Winter Beer Fest moving forward, but did express concern about the event’s location and for West Michigan Whitecaps staff — Fifth Third Ballpark is home stadium for the minor league baseball team.
“The Michigan Brewers Guild is certainly concerned about our upcoming beer festival at the Fifth Third Ballpark, but our first concern is for all of our friends at the West Michigan Whitecaps,” Graham said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the staff at the ballpark today.”
It appears the loss in the stadium is significant; however, Winter Beer Fest is primarily held outside the park in the adjacent parking lot.
“We will assess what it means to the Guild after the damage…can be assessed,” Graham said. “Because our event is held outside the ballpark in the parking lot we are hopeful that it will turn out well.”
Vendor events and an after party for staff take place inside the ballpark facility.
“We will do our best to keep fans of Michigan beer informed in coming days as we learn more,” Graham said.