Detroit Auto Show May Leave Detroit

Once the Detroit City Council successfully blocked a $288-million deal to renovate the aging Cobo Hall and transfer ownership to a regional authority, the association running the Detroit auto show began looking at other options for places to hold the show — and Oakland County is trying hard to attract it.

Novi, a suburb of Detroit located about 25 miles northwest of the city, could become the home of the auto show by 2011 if speculative expansion plans for a conference hall can be brought to fruition.Rock Financial Showplace, a relatively new 300,000-square-foot facility built in 2005, is about 400,000 square feet smaller than Cobo, which is already considered too small for the show.

Doug Fox, a senior co-chair of the show, said the facility would have to be expanded for the show to be able to move to Novi.

“They need to do a significant expansion, but they have assembled the land,” Fox said. According to Fox, the needed expansion could cost between $120 million and $180 million.

“Oakland County will be working legislatively… to make this expansion possible,” Fox said.Michigan lawmakers will likely be willing to work with Oakland County now that the deal with the city of Detroit has fallen through to renovate Cobo, because the alternative is to lose the international press event to another state.

Fox says the show could move to Chicago, or even Los Angeles, leaving Detroit with a much less prestigious auto show. Fox said organizers will let Rock Financial Showplace know if they will move the auto show to Novi within six to eight weeks.

Sources: The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News