Detroit bankruptcy would not affect January auto show, say organizers

Article by Anita Panait, on July 22, 2013

Organizers of the 2014 North American International Auto Show gave assurance that the bankruptcy filing of the city of Detroit would not affect the event’s planning or staging at Cobo Center in January next year. Cobo Center has been operated independently of Detroit since 2009, when Michigan’s legislature shifted its control from the city to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority.

The regional authority is comprised up of five members that are appointed by the state of Michigan, the city of Detroit and the Metro Detroit counties of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland. Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association that organizes the auto show, remarked declaring bankruptcy was the right move for the city. He said in an interview with Automotive News that it was “something that had to happen for Detroit to move forward.” Alberts remarked, “It’s our opportunity now to actually relieve ourselves from this legacy of liabilities that we have and get a fresh start for the city.” Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday with up to $20 billion in debt.

Cobo Center is currently undergoing $299 million in renovations for more meeting space and other improvements.  The renovations were prompted partly by pressure from some foreign carmakers to boycott the show or scale back exhibits. Cobo Center, which opened as Cobo Hall in 1960, has been hosted the annual auto show since 1965.

City officials have vowed to maintain current levels of police services for the 2014 event, but Alberts said they are not worried if there are cutbacks as they are taking security “up a notch.”  Carl Berry, chief of security for the auto show, remarked in June that the show planned to hire and manage its own security force instead of contracting private companies. He said that decision came in response to recent terrorist attacks. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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