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Each year, thousands of journalists arrive in Detroit to see the best and brightest concepts and production vehicles automakers have to offer. It's estimated that the Detroit Auto Show brings in $500 to $600 million dollars annually to the region, which is struggling more than most due to the global recession. For years, the City of Detroit has failed to expand Cobo, and each year there are threats that the NAIAS will be taken away from the Motor City. The state of Michigan has been working with executives from Wayne and Oakland counties and the city of Detroit to upgrade Cobo, but yesterday the Detroit City Council voted down the proposed plan by a five-three tally. The proposed expansion was to add a much needed 166,000-sq. ft. of floorspace at a cost of $288 million.

The part of the plan that isn't sitting well with Detroit officials is a stipulation that hands control of the aging facility to a regional authority controlled by the tri-county area and representatives from the city and state. The city would receive $20 million dollars in funds to cede power of Cobo, but the council feels they aren't getting fair value for the venue. The city, which has been knee-deep in debt for years, operates Cobo at an annual loss of between $13 and $15 million. Due to disrepair, analysts say the building is worth a negative $284 million dollars.

We love the Detroit show, but the fact is that Cobo is a bit of a dump. The escalators don't always work, the cars are crammed into the limited floor space, and last year a fork lift collapsed into the Cobo floor. Automakers have been making their concerns known, with several pulling out of Detroit this year and a few more revealing no new products. NAIAS organizers say that Cobo must be repaired in 2010 or the city could lose its International designation. Exactly what the struggling city and region don't need right now.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Problem is the show means too much to Detroit. Hotels that are probably 1/4 full the other 359 days of the year gouge during the show. The infrastructure stinks, the parking is limited, the facility is crappy, and the workers there are indifferent.

      It wasn't too small THIS year...considering the entire basement was a mulchy field and there were empty booth spaces.

      The fact is, we don't need three international shows in the US (LA, DT, NY). 1 or 2 is fine. Detroit in January...wow, every year I can hardly wait for the *fun* of crap food, expensive hotels, and lovely weather.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The turd I flushed about 20 minuets ago had a higher IQ than the collective body of Detroit’s City Council. There's a greater brain trust at the NW corner of Woodward Ave. and I-696 (The Detroit Zoo).
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Silverdome property sits empty near the corner of I-75 and M59. Oakland county should build a convention center there that would be state of the art and avoid the pimple that is Detroit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Detroit has so many nicer suburbs - novi, farmington hills, auburn hills, troy, ann arbor, canton, plymouth, livonia, etc. etc.

      Any one of these towns should be the venue for the world's best auto show.


        • 6 Years Ago
        ANY city north of 8 mile and West of Telegraph is nicer.....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bosnia and Cambodia have nicer places than Detroit...

        But anyway, bring the event to Rock Financial Showplace in Novi. It's pretty new, in a great area, super easy access, and Novi has plenty of wads of cash to expand it. Cobo is a pain in the ass to get in and out of, and I've NEVER been outside of Cobo without being harassed by a beggar. They flock to the autoshow just like car enthusiasts, but for different reasons.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is the problem these days "Detroit City Council"---------these convention centers should be run by private money, government should not be involved at all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This all the work of that idiot Monica Conyers who's inflated ego is so out off touch with reality she would rather bring down the entire city than relinkquish one once of control.

      If NAIAS pulls out of Detroit - it will be her fault entirely. They should have it at Rock Financial Showplace.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Expanding the auto show sure would stimulate the auto show, wouldn't it? (no sarcasm intended) Also, Cobo Hall is ridiculously overcrowded right now as it is!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why does it have to be in the Detroit Slums?
      I am sure Novi Expo Center wouldn't mind hosting it. All of the automaker tech centers are in the Ann-arbor/Novi/Farmington Hills/Rochester area anyway.

      Stick a fork in trying to revive Detroit and let the suburbs have it. Detroit goverment is full of uneducated crooks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Novi Expo center is closed and the Rock Financial Show place is nowhere near as big as Cobo as it stands. And you say those suburbs together as if they're all close to each other, which they are certainly not.

        If you let Detroit die, the rest of the area is going to die with it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The whole area didn't get to where it is by doing the smart thing.

      As a Michigan native I find this completely unsurprising. Although I will say the Suburbs wouldn't have even existed without the 'urbs and would have a lot to gain (just in terms of property value) if someone could put out the tire-fire known as Detroit.

      As for building a showcase for American products, we already have convention centers all over the US, why should taxpayers in California pay for a convention center in Detroit?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Autoextremist's Peter DeLorenzo tears the Detroit City Council a new one in today's On The Table:

      http://www.autoextremist.com/on-the-table1/
        • 6 Years Ago
        I know something has gone terribly terribly wrong when I agree with L. Brooks Patterson on something.
      • 6 Years Ago
      .
      Are they nuts? $20-million for a building valued at negative $284-million that loses $13 to $15-million per annum and needs a $288-million renovation is a very good deal.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Are they nuts?"

        yes. They've got this idea that Detroit is in better shape than it is; nevermind the repeated election of mayors who are more interested in being a public spectacle.

        Sad thing is, had Archer stuck around the Cobo upgrades might have already been done by now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would also vote for moving the show's presence to Chicago. It would have better accessibility, a much nicer facility in McCormick Place, plenty of hotel capacity, plenty of tourist stuff, and is less than 300 miles away. The Chicago show already draws more public than any other US-based show as it is. You're trading one bunch of corrupt crooks for another in terms of local government and union labor but at least you're getting a better show overall.
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