NAIAS May Move Out of Cobo

After the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Detroit’s city council, the co-chairman of the North American International Auto Show said the show may move from its long-time Cobo Center home to another southeastern Michigan venue.

The court upheld an earlier ruling that Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel could not veto the Detroit City Council’s rejection of state legislation that would have placed Cobo into the hands of a regional authority, and poured some $288 million into renovating the convention center. Cockrel’s press secretary said the mayor will not appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Without renovations and expansions to the center, Douglass Fox, one of the co-chairman of the Detroit auto show, said new locations would be considered for housing the show.

“At this point we need to consider any viable option that might be out there for us,” Fox said. “There have been leaders – L. Brooks Patterson comes to mind – who have made those overtures. We need to explore those options.

“It has taken 20 years to build the show into the international show that it is today, and our committee is in total agreement and solidarity that we must protect the stature of this show. If it means considering other venues, then that’s what we have to do,” he said.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has said he would try to attract the auto show to Oakland County if the plan to transfer Cobo to a regional authority failed.

Fox said he doesn’t predict a viable plan to improve Cobo will emerge without the cooperation of a regional authority.

“I say this, not challenging anything, or with any angst at all, but we have a business, a very viable business, that generates between $350 million and $500 million in economic benefit a year,” Fox said. “We just can’t allow that opportunity to be jeopardized, for the region or for the auto dealers.”

Cockrel will continue working with the city council, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and state legislators to come up with a plan to get Cobo the renovations it needs, he said in a statement.

“We have every intention of retaining and expanding the North American International Auto Show, and attracting new conventions and trade shows to Detroit. The Final Four, the All-Star Game, and many more major events have proven in recent years that Detroit is a tremendous host, and our guests have a great time when they’re here.”

Source: Automotive News, Crain’s Detroit Business