Cobo Hall, NAIAS Home, to be Expanded

The Michigan Senate passed compromise legislation last Friday allowing for an expansion and renovation of downtown Detroit’s Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center. Cobo, the home of the 2009 North American International Auto Show, has long been criticized as a small and outdated venue for the world-renowned auto show.

The $288 million project, which some predicted could cost billions, was finally approved after a long held dispute over the makeup of an authority to own and run the convention center. In the agreement settled upon, a five-member board with members selected by the governor, the city of Detroit, and Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, will purchase the center from the city of Detroit. The board will have the authority to sell bonds to pay for the renovations and will collect revenue raised by local hotel/motel, liquor and cigarette taxes.

According to the Detroit News, the Detroit auto show infuses the local economy with about $600 million each year. Over the past few years, there has been growing concern in the area that the Detroit show is losing clout, with the Los Angeles auto show becoming home to a growing number of new car debuts. Detroit’s January show forces automakers to brave both the miserable winter of Detroit, and the outdated Cobo Center.

This year, those fears are quickly being solidified, as several automakers-including Nissan and its Infiniti brand, Porsche, and Suzuki-have declined to make a corporate presence at the show. Auto show officials hope the renovations and expansion will lure back some of the automakers defecting from the show.

Source: Detroit News