The latest chapter in the saga of Detroit's dilapidated Cobo Center was written over the weekend during the annual Autorama show. Against a backdrop of gorgeous and valuable hot rods, Cobo itself again became the story thanks to roof leaks that sent dirty water dripping down from the ceiling onto some of the show cars below. The situation angered the show's organizer, who pointed out the abundantly obvious when he told the The Detroit News, "If this isn't addressed, they're going to lose events." Lord knows the facility's been losing exhibitors at its signature exhibition, the North American International Auto Show, over the past couple of years. While some of that surely has to do with the economic climate, many of those same exhibitors still manage to find their way to major-market shows like L.A. or New York.
As to whether the situation has any hope of improving, that's all up in the air. Cobo's future is mired in an ugly political tug-of-war between Detroit's mayor, who supports state-backed renovation and expansion followed by regional control of the facility, and the City Council, which doesn't want to cede any control. Last week, the mayor vetoed the council's rejection of the state-supported measure, and now the council may mount a legal challenge. As usual, lawyers stand to win regardless of the final outcome.
In the meantime, Cobo becomes more of an embarrassment with each passing day. It's hard to lure world-class events to your venue when you need to hang tarps from the ceiling to catch water coming through your leaky roof, which is exactly what happened during Autorama. The Motown city fathers ought to be worried, seeing as how there's a gigantic facility in a legitimate destination city just 237 miles away. We're sure they'd welcome the likes of Autorama and NAIAS with arms wide open.
[Source: The Detroit News]