SHERRI WELCH

DADA adds fancy afterglow at Detroit show's Charity Preview

Sherri Welch is a reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.Sherri Welch is a reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
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There's a new Detroit auto show Charity Preview afterglow event, and it could become an annual part of the black-tie night.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which holds the Charity Preview to benefit eight local children's charities and its own foundation, is hosting for the first time a pre-party and afterglow in Cobo's new Grand Riverview Ballroom immediately following this year's Jan. 17 preview of the Detroit auto show.

The Studio 25 After Party, presented by Dan Gilbert's Opportunity Detroit campaign, is meant to commemorate the Detroit auto show's 25th anniversary, said DADA Executive Director Rod Alberts. But there's likely to be a "Studio 26" next year and another the year after.

About 2,000 Charity Preview guests will attend the new elite party at $150 a ticket. That's beyond the $350 guests will pay for the preview event this year.

The afterglow will include 25 swanky lounge areas for corporate entertaining that accommodates about 500 people. The Euro-style lounges will include couches and soft seating, a table with drinks and appetizers, and beaded curtains on three sides to afford the smaller groups a little privacy.

All but one of the areas have sold out, along with 1,500 of the available tickets that went to lounge sponsors, Alberts said.

Outside of the lounges there will be general seating areas, food stations and bars, foot massage areas, live music, neon-lit panels courtesy of Cobo's new ballroom and Cirque du Soleil aerial performers.

Alberts said he doesn't see the event competing with longstanding off-site afterglows planned by charities. The money from the preview is meant to be their core fundraising for the evening, he said, though it's good they can raise additional funds through their afterglows.

Studio 25 isn't meant to be a fundraiser, Alberts said, or to take away from the amount raised during the charity preview. So it's a standalone party. "We're just trying to create more value to the night," while giving people who wouldn't otherwise have late-evening plans a place to go, he said.

The event will keep roughly 15 percent of the people attending the preview at Cobo, cutting down on the hundreds of limousines that converge at the venue's entryways when the preview is over, he said.

The budget and sponsorships for Studio 25 were designed to ensure "we come out as close to flush as we can," Alberts said.

About 10,000 of 15,000 available tickets for the Charity Preview have sold so far at $350 apiece. That's up from $300 last year and $250 in 2012.

Alberts said the DADA raised the ticket price to reflect the quality of the event (singer Sheryl Crow is this year's headliner) and to raise more money for the kids.

Last year, the Charity Preview attracted about 13,000 guests and netted about $3.9 million, Alberts said.

You can reach Sherri Welch at swelch@crain.com.

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