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Record Year for Event Days Predicted at Detroit’s Cobo Center

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
February 9, 2016
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Detroit, MI – Following the conclusion of the record-breaking 2016 North American International Auto Show, the management of Cobo Center predicted that 2016 would be another record year for the venue which just completed its dramatic five-year transformation and the debut of Cobo Square.

Cobo hosted 85 major events last year compared to 35 in 2010 when the $279 million renovation program began. The number of event days at Cobo hit 400 in 2015, about double the total from 2010 when the five-year project got underway.  Management expects to set another record again this year.

The refurbishing and expansion project moved Cobo up to 723,000 square feet (sf) of prime exhibit space, and into 17th place on the Trade Show Executive World’s Top Convention Centers rankings.

Thom Connors, Regional Vice President of SMG and General Manager of Cobo Center, said the dramatic facelift, highlighted by a new atrium and panoramic views of the Detroit River, gave the downtown landmark dramatic return on investment. The renovation and increased spotlight on Detroit played a part in dramatic attendance gains for international events such as the Aluminum Show which returned late last year, the Intelligent Transportation International Conference which had greater attendance in Detroit than in Tokyo, and the North American International Auto Show which generated $30 million more in economic impact than its 2015 event, which was a success story in its own right. 

“There are very few second acts for arenas in America,” Connors said. “In the automotive engineering and manufacturing sectors, we are now back on the map as the  place to hold a meeting or trade show. Some of them are now permanently re-established at Cobo Center as a result of this successful reinvention and renovation.”

“The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) began on a mission of regional cooperation, and through the success of this renovation, became an example of what is possible when people work in consensus,” said Larry Alexander, Chairman of the DRCFA and CEO of the

Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Cobo will put the crowning touch on the renovations this Spring when it cuts the ribbon on the riverfront Cobo Square, a large outdoor terrace offering 45,000 square feet of flexible space that can be used for show-related functions and by the city for art fairs and other cultural activities.

Reach Thom at (313) 877-8777 or  tconnors@cobocenter.com; Larry at (313) 202-1800 or lalexander@VisitDetroit.com

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