Deal signed to keep Detroit show at Cobo Center until 2017
Photo credit: David Phillips
DETROIT -- Detroit auto show officials today announced an agreement that will keep the show at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit until 2017.
Rod Alberts, executive director of the North American International Auto Show, and Thom Connors, Cobo Center general manager, signed the 5-year contract today at a press conference.
The new contract was reported Wednesday by Crain’s Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Financial details have not been disclosed, but Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, said the contract represents $1.75 billion in aggregate economic impact for southeast Michigan.
Cobo Center has been expanded in recent years to handle the growth of the auto show.
There had been concern that the auto show, operated by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, would find a different venue. At one point, plans circulated for the show to move to Novi, Mich., about 10 miles northwest of Detroit. The concern was fueled by the show's need for more space and a history of mismanagement, corruption and waste at Cobo Center.
“We needed more out of Cobo and we were restricted for a lot of years,” said Bill Perkins, chairman of the 2012 show. "Believe it or not, there were some serious contenders. We had plenty of people wanting to build us a new facility to hold the NAIAS."
‘We are with you’
Perkins said there has been no reaction yet from automakers on the new deal, but he thinks it will be positive.
“The agreement we put together is our commitment to Detroit and southeast Michigan,” he said. “It is our way of saying ‘Detroit, we are with you.’”
The show runs Monday through Jan. 22, encompassing the private media and industry days and the public show.
In November, the convention facility authority secured short-term financing for the $279 million third phase of the renovation, which calls for Cobo Arena to be converted into meeting space with a 40,000-square-foot ballroom over an open-air terrace and overlooking Hart Plaza. Space to the south will look out over the Detroit River.
Plans also call for creation of a three-story atrium that will have a view of the river. An overhang, glass walls and a digital signboard will be added to the building's main façade.
The latest round of work on Cobo began in 2009. The first phase cost about $3 million and consisted of upgrades to the center's aging electrical infrastructure and elimination of leaks.
The second phase, which cost about $57 million, enclosed the loading docks, made more electrical improvements, created 400 parking spaces, partially reroofed the building and added 25,000 square feet of exhibition space to Wayne Hall.
Perkins said renovations at Cobo have strengthened the infrastructure and allowed automakers to use large TV screens and large amounts of electricity for their displays.
“What we’re doing infrastructurewise is really going to help them,” he said. “We can do things here that can’t be done at any other auto show in the country.”
Ellen Mitchell and Bill Shea of Crain's Detroit Business contributed to this report