NAIAS Visitors Will See Cobo Center Updates

The 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will be held as usual at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit this January. What won’t be “usual” is the aging facility itself which is in the midst of a heavily funded and much needed makeover.

Phase One: Done

The planned updates for the Cobo Center are underway, but the final changes won’t be finished until the 2012 NAIAS is held. However, visitors to the 2011 NAIAS will see a number of improvements to the food and entertainment areas as the first phase of the $300 million renovation has been completed as reported by The Detroit News.[1]

A leaky roof and electrical problems have been addressed, with updates made to the facility’s loading dock and other infrastructure improvements accomplished. All told, the first phase will be completed by the time the 2011 NAIAS, at a cost of $80 million to taxpayers.

That’s good news for a facility woefully unable to handle a high visibility show at a level more modern venues in Los Angeles or New York are able to manage. Indeed, it was the threat that Detroit could lose the NAIAS to another city which finally drove the city, surrounding counties and the state of Michigan to come up with a plan to upgrade the Cobo Center in 2009.

New Food Options

The Cobo Center, opened in 1961, is managed by the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority and is a 2.4 million square foot complex. A food court, featuring a Seattle’s Best coffee shop, the Detroit Beer Company and Lockhart’s BBQ are among the new vendors present. The Cobo Center’s Vu Restaurant is under new management.

Albert Kahn Associates, a local architect firm, is spearheading the the Cobo Center renovations.[2] Those renovations will include reconfiguring the center’s south side, updating Michigan Hall and adding 25,000 square feet of facility space. The city of Detroit was paid $20 million for transferring the Cobo Arena and related parking garages to the DRCFA.

The 2011 NAIAS will hold its public show from January 15-23. Media, industry and charity previews will be held from January 10-14, 2011.


[1] The Detroit News: 2011 Cobo Visitors Will See Facility Upgrades, New Food Options

[2] Crain’s Detroit Business: Architect Chosen for Cobo Center Renovations


North American International Auto Show