With a legislative deal to expand Detroits Cobo Center dead, its time for the Detriot auto show to look at other venues, the shows co-chairman said today.
At this point we need to consider any viable option that might be out there for us, said Douglass Fox, auto show co-chairman. There have been leaders -- (Oakland County Executive) L. Brooks Patterson comes to mind -- who have made those overtures. We need to explore those options.
Fox said that southeast Michigan remains the committees locale of choice, but said absent renovation and expansion at Cobo, the show may move on.
It has taken 20 years to build the show into the international show that it is today, and our committee is in total agreement and solidarity that we must protect the stature of this show, he said. If it means considering other venues, then thats what we have to do.
Fox said he doesnt foresee a viable plan to improve Cobo without regional collaboration.
I say this, not challenging anyone, or with any angst at all, but we have a business, a very viable business, that generates between $350 million and $500 million in economic benefit a year, he said. We just cant allow that opportunity to be jeopardized, for the region or for the auto dealers.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled earlier today in favor of the Detroit City Council in a lawsuit concerning the future of Cobo Center.
Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr.s press secretary has said the administration doesnt plan to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
State legislation crafted late last year provided for a roughly $288 million expansion and renovation of Cobo by extending a regional tax and creating a tri-county authority to govern the center.
But the city council disapproved the deal on Feb. 24.
Cockrel vetoed the councils decision. The council challenged Cockrels veto in court, saying the legislation didnt give the mayor the right to veto the councils vote.
A Wayne County Circuit Court judge ruled in the councils favor after more than a week of negotiations attempting to strike a compromise between the council, which wanted a more significant role for Detroit in the management of Cobo, and the mayor, whose position has been that the existing Cobo deal is the only viable plan for an expansion.
In a statement issued after the appeals court ruling, Cockrel said he would work with the council, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature to craft a new plan for a Cobo expansion.
We have every intention of retaining and expanding the North American International Auto Show, and attracting new conventions and trade shows to Detroit, he said in the statement. The Final Four, the Super Bowl, the All-Star Game, and many more major events have proven in recent years that Detroit is a tremendous host, and our guests have a great time when theyre here.
The mayors office noted that Cobos operating budget had been included in Cockrels proposed budget for fiscal year 2009, and that the city continues to operate and manage the convention center.