Multiyear deal expected to keep Detroit show at Cobo Center
DETROIT -- A multiyear deal that will keep the Detroit auto show at Cobo Center will be announced Thursday, according to Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
It is thought that the contract is for five years. Financial details have not been disclosed.
Cobo has been expanded in recent years to handle the growth of the auto show.
A news conference is scheduled for noon Thursday. Expected to attend are Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority; Bill Perkins, chairman of the 2012 North American International Auto Show; Rod Alberts, NAIAS executive director; and Thom Connors, Cobo Center general manager.
There had been worry in recent years that the auto show, operated by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, would find a different venue -- plans had circulated at one point for the show to move out of downtown Detroit to Novi. The speculation was fueled by the show's need for more space and a history of mismanagement, corruption and waste at Cobo.
"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," said Perkins, who declined to reveal the length of the contract with Cobo.
"One reason we are doing this is the longstanding relationship, not only with Cobo Hall but with the city of Detroit. With everything going on now, the time to step in and make the commitment is right."
The five-member convention authority was created in September 2009 as the body that now owns and operates Cobo. On the authority are representatives from the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
The show runs Jan. 9-22, encompassing both the private media and industry days and the public show.
In November, the Cobo authority secured short-term financing for the $279 million renovation of the convention center. The money will pay for the 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 sign board will be added to the building's main façade.
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 additional electrical improvements, created 400 parking spaces, partially reroofed the building and added 25,000 square feet of exhibition space to Wayne Hall.
Crain's reporter Nancy Kaffer contributed to this story.
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