Detroit convention center to get upgrades for auto showTue, 04 Aug 2009 00:00:00 -0700
For now, the Motor City will retain its spot on the calendar of international auto shows, as plans to upgrade the aging convention center where it's held annually will move forward.
A $300 million deal to renovate and expand the nearly 50-year-old Cobo Center in Detroit is set to proceed after an Aug. 1 deadline to scuttle the plan passed without opposition from local officials.
Officially called the North American International Auto Show, the event is the only one in the United States with prestigious sanctioning from a Paris-based trade organization. The Detroit show is considered a global one, on a footing with exhibitions in Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris.
The Detroit show is where the three area automakers usually try to make their biggest splashes. This year, General Motors unveiled the Cadillac Converj concept in part to show off its eco credentials as it sought federal assistance. Over the years, Chrysler has used the show for memorable publicity stunts, including a cattle drive and the launch of a Jeep through a glass window.
Import automakers also have long looked at the show as an opportunity to get their products in front of opinion-shapers, and even this year, amid flagging economic conditions, more than 5,500 journalists from around the world made it to Detroit. Toyota used the event to reveal the production version of the 2010 Prius, Audi showed the Sportback concept (AutoWeek's Best in Show) and Mercedes showed off the SLR Stirling Moss--which won't even be sold in the United States.
The show was first held in 1907 and has had international status since 1989.
The renovation plans are a compromise after local officials battled over expansion and ownership of the site. The show faced the prospect of being relocated to an outlying suburb or being eclipsed in status by rival shows in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
By Greg Migliore