Cobo Center is one of the largest convention centers in the nation. Built by the City of Detroit, it was originally opened in 1960 and named Cobo Hall in honor of former Detroit Mayor Albert E. Cobo (1950-1957).
Today, Cobo Center is managed and operated by the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA). The five-member Authority Board consists of one representative from each of five government agencies – the City of Detroit, State of Michigan and the three metro-Detroit counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. The DRCFA is currently overseeing a $299 million expansion and upgrade of Cobo Center that is scheduled for completion in January 2015.
In October 2010, the DRCFA awarded the contract for operations management of Cobo Center to SMG, the world leader in venue management, marketing and development. The success of this new contract is seen in the fact that on January 5, 2012, senior officials for the DRCFA and the NAIAS signed an unprecedented five-year contract that keeps the auto show in the Motor City through 2017.
Cobo Center is among ‘Best in Class’ of regionally and nationally competitive US convention centers in the following key categories:
- Contiguous exhibition space (622,500 sq ft)
- Overhead rigging capacity on 10’ grid
- Facility-wide, free, ultra high speed Wi-Fi coverage
- International access: US Port of Entry – Tunnel to Canada two blocks from facility
- Cross Canada direct highway connection to East Coast population centers (Western New York, New England)
- Superior air lift capacity at award winning Detroit Metro Airport (ranked #1 by many industry analysts)
- Public transport access to downtown shopping attractions and hotels with on-site downtown People Mover station
- Majority of rooms in downtown convention hotel block less than 5 years old – over 1,850 new, competitively priced rooms on line since 2007
- Overall campus on the riverfront includes Joe Louis Arena and makes outdoor festival or special event space easily accessible
- Since 2010 under new management by industry leaders SMG (overall operations) and Centerplate (food service).
- Metro Detroit has experience successfully hosting major events including the Super Bowl, MLB All Star Game and World Series, and the NCAA Final Four and Frozen Four – all 5 since 2005! No other city in the US has done that.
- Retail shopping is provided on the concourse of Cobo Center in the Detroit Shoppe, a non-profit agency selling iconic made-in-Detroit brand merchandise. All proceeds go to local charities.