Detroit’s bankruptcy filing won’t affect the planning or staging of the 2014 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in January, show organizers said.
Cobo Center has operated independently of the city of Detroit since 2009, when Michigan’s legislature transferred control of the convention center from the city to a regional authority.
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority is made up of five members, appointed by the state, the city of Detroit and three counties that make up Metro Detroit: Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland.
The city, saddled with up to $20 billion in debt, filed for bankruptcy protection on July 18, 2013.
Though the city will face tough times, Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which organizes the show, said declaring bankruptcy was the right move.
“It was something that had to happen for Detroit to move forward,” Alberts said in an interview with Automotive News. “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.”
Cobo Center is undergoing $299 million in renovations to add meeting space and other improvements. The modifications were prompted, in part, by previous threats by some foreign automakers to skip the show or scale back exhibits.
Cobo Center, in downtown Detroit, opened as Cobo Hall in 1960 and has hosted the annual auto show since 1965.
City officials have pledged to maintain current levels of police services for the January show, but if there are cutbacks, Alberts said he’s not worried.
“We’re taking (security) up a notch, anyway,” Alberts said.
Carl Berry, chief of security for the auto show, said last month that the show planned to hire and manage its own security force rather than contracting with private companies as in years past. Berry said that the decision came in response to recent terrorist attacks, including the bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon in April.
Alberts added that in addition to working with Detroit police, Berry will be involved with numerous municipal, state, and federal agencies.
“I know we can lean on other agencies to help us out if we need to,” Alberts said.