• Mar 31, 2009
We can't blame Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson one bit for thinking the North American International Auto Show might be better served by moving locations away from Detroit's troubled Cobo Center. The building itself has been in disrepair for years, with a leaky roof and a poor electrical system generally cited as its most urgent needs. When an agreement was finally reached that would have fixed most of Cobo's many woes and expanded it with an additional 166,000 square-feet of floorspace, we all let out a collective sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, in what our own John McElroy called "a stupefying move at the 11th hour," the Detroit City Council voted down the proposed plan by a five-to-three tally, saying that the $20 million the city would be paid to give up power over the dilapidated building wasn't enough. Naturally, this action drew ire from a number of important sources, not the least of which being the automakers who are growing increasingly fed up about the horrid state of affairs at the Detroit Auto Show.

Here's where Patterson comes into play: "If this thing goes down, I'm done," Patterson has told The Detroit News. "I'm not going to go back to Detroit to try to resurrect the deal. Five years is enough." Unfortunately, Patterson's plan to move the annual event to another location in the Detroit area has a few potential snags of its own. The next largest nearby venue is the Pontiac Silverdome, which is about two-thirds the size and has been empty since the Detroit Lions left the stadium in 2002.

And what does the embattled Detroit City Council have to say about Patterson's proclamations? "He's bullying us as usual... he just wants everything on his own terms" says councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins.

This is one sordid affair that seems likely to drag on for years with no end in sight.

[Source: The Detroit News]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      ""He's bullying us as usual... he just wants everything on his own terms" says councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins."

      And you don't?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would say

      1. Chicago, 2. New York, 3. Las Vegas

      I have been to the show at Cobo and downtown offers NOTHING.

      Chicago has plenty of hotels and ease of transportation from the suburbs. New York is capable of anything. I have never been to Vegas, so I am not sure, but it seems like anything is possible there too.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Chicago really wouldn't be bad.

      I went to this year's show, and yes McCormick is simply huge. Only caveat was the limited sports car section. Chrysler managed to squeeze in a Jeep test track, and other manufacturers made lavish use of the space. Plus parking is ample, and the location is accessible from both airports via the el, and metra and all major highways (90/94/55 etc).

      LA could be interesting, but the LA area is so spread out that it might prove expensive for alot of different reasons.

      This makes me wonder about the long-term significance of Detroit being the center of the American auto industry.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Vegas hosts SEMA...

        Vegas hosts every kind of trade show under the sun...

        Vegas could host NAIAS.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The only thing with Detroit is that it draws many people from Toronto and Ontario. Many of the cars displayed at the NAIAS are also sold in Canada so in a way the Detroit show is Canada's biggest show as well. If it moved to Chicago attendance would probably stay about the same. People from the Toronto area would probably just skip it as would many in the Detroit area. Only the diehards would go.

        The NAIAS has more world premiers than any show on this hemisphere so and that demonstrates the show is important and can be there despite Detroit's many troubles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes Cobo is a dump but size isn't the issue anymore. I'm tired of seeing "Chicago is soooo much bigger" as if that is important.

      The industry is contracting. GM will be cutting models and brands and then there is Chrysler which will do the same. Even with a merger between Fiat, Chrysler will be smaller than it is now. So if there is no Saturn, Hummer (saves a lot of space! ha!) or Pontiac and if Chrysler trims down there will be plenty of open space in Cobo. The building just needs to be renovated.

      In my opinion big auto shows are over. There will always be shows but they will be smaller, more subdued shows.

      As for the city's "leadership" it's just business as usual. The city of Detroit has fought with the burbs forever. The city always claims the suburbs are "raping" the city of it's "riches" while they are the ones raping themselves. The whole reason areas like Southfield and Troy have major buildings and businesses and Royal Oak and Farmington Hills have excellent restaurants is because the price to do business in Detroit is too steep. If the companies the built up Southfield and Troy stayed in Detroit the city would be much better off.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cobo's been declining for decades, along with the whole city. It would only be logical, if MI is to keep the show at all, to move it to the burbs, with their better perception of safety and adequate cheap parking. Anybody who's done the Joe Louis garage steps knows misery with no bounds.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's ironic. Vegas hosts SEMA but the Las Vegas International Auto Show is one of the worst in the country. The Las Vegas Vegas Convention Center is huge and they use all of it for SEMA but only one hall for the new car auto show.

      Being a native Chicagoan, I'm totally in favor of moving the NAIAS to McCormick Place. It makes perfect sense. The Chicago Auto Trade Association would do a fantastic job as they always do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't retain sub-par Vegas management then...

        ...Chicago sounds great, but has same issue as Detroit. Sub-zero, midwest winter temps/ freezing weather!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Las Vegas International Auto Show is put on by Motor Trend Auto Shows. As I said, the L.V. Convention Center is huge and has more than enough room to host a world class auto show but all they use is one hall. A number of manufacturers don't even have exhibits in Vegas including Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar, Mitsubishi and Porsche. It's sad.

        I grew up in Chicago and attended many Chicago Auto Shows. I also spent several years living near Seattle and their auto show is also pretty good. When I moved to Vegas, I expected a really good auto show. Instead it's a really crappy show.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Take for example the Geneva Automobile Salon. It is located just off the airport. You can walk from the terminal to the Palexpo (home of the car show). They made it actually attractive to go and visit. Not like Cobo which feels more like a visit to the dentist for a root canal treatment. Why doesn't Michigan build something similar at the DTW airport terminal. A state of the art exhibition center that people actually want to go see and visit. This would also perfectly fit in with the planed light rail system from Ann Arbor to Detroit. It would connect the city with the exhibition center.
        • 5 Years Ago
        AZZO45b, buddy, as another SE Michigan resident, also once in Detroit, and now in the burbs, I couldn't agree with you more. Every f***ing day, some jack*ss around here raises the term clusterf*ck to a new level.
        • 5 Years Ago
        (1) Because the state is BROKE

        (2) It took a decade or so to plan & build the Northwest Terminal . They also just built a new terminal that had been a "temp" when it was built in the mid 50's. This project seemed to take forever as well. :( :(

        (3) By the time an off-airport facility is built, the NAIAS would be reluctant to return ....after years of being in Los Angeles or metro Chicago! (JMO).


      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm basically a life long resident of S/E MI & have lived in BOTH the city of Detroit & the 'burbs. The educational level of Detroit is well known. Intelligent Detroiters get out-voted by severely UNDER-EDUCATED citizens.

      The small percentage THAT EVEN VOTE... treat the elections like American Idol! Gee, Martha Reeves used to sing under Motown Records.... she's just PERFECT for city government, eh??? PLEASE!!!

      Sadly, the rest seem to think their city is unfairly persecuted due to the racial make-up of the city. Any criticism is tagged RACIST or guys like Patterson are called "a bully". The Oakland County Exec. is a Republican, but Democrats in Lansing meet the same roadblocks.

      Ms. Collins can B*tch & Complain all she wants... Detroit will (& IMO, deserve to) LOSE the NAIAS!!! L. Brooks Patterson will not get an alt. venue built either. SE/ MI will plain & simply see the NAIAS relocate to a proper facility & state that has a freakin' clue.

      Enjoy the revenue from the NCAA Final Four @ Ford Field & pray the Redwings make the Stanley Cup Finals.... the NAIAS "teet" will soon run dry.


        • 5 Years Ago
        "What's not to like?"

        well, I wouldn't like it to leave the Detroit area. But, since the Detroit city government seems determined to screw up every detail, I guess Chicago wouldn't be a bad alternative. Illinois does have some solid ties to the auto industry with Ford's Chicago Assembly, (where I was last week, BTW,) Chrysler's Belvidere, and the now-defunct DSM plant in Normal. Plus whatever I might be forgetting.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chicago!

        Bring NAIAS to Chicago!

        Excellent convention facility probably 10 times the size of COBO, in excellent condition. Vast numbers of hotel rooms (ever try to get a place to stay during NAIAS?). And a city that's actually worth visiting - top-flight restaurants, entertainment, museums, culture, etc, etc.

        And it's still in the Midwest! And the Chicago auto show is currently the biggest show in the country, I believe.

        What's not to like?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes, Cobo is obsolete, either build a new place or use a smaller venue somewhere else.
      Remember, GM, if there at all will need much less space.
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