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Cobo Center

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M-10 passes underneath, then immediately comes up to its end at street level (Jefferson Avenue).
Former names Cobo Hall
Location 1 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan 48226
United States

42°19′34″N 83°2′49″W / 42.32611°N 83.04694°W / 42.32611; -83.04694Coordinates: 42°19′34″N 83°2′49″W / 42.32611°N 83.04694°W / 42.32611; -83.04694{{#coordinates:42|19|34|N|83|2|49|W|type:landmark_scale:2000 |primary |name=

Owner Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
(operated by SMG)
Type Convention center
Opened 1960
Renovated 1989, 2012
Expanded 2012
Architect ROSSETTI
Official website

Cobo Center (formerly Cobo Hall) is a convention center situated along Jefferson and Washington avenues in downtown Detroit. It was named for Albert E. Cobo, mayor of Detroit from 1950 to 1957. Designed by Gino Rossetti, the center opened in 1960. Expanded in 1989, the present Script error: No such module "convert". complex contains Script error: No such module "convert". of exhibition space, with 623,000 square feet contiguous. Preliminary construction to update and further expand the center's exhibition space began October 1, 2009, by the facility's current owner, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA). Along with adjacent Joe Louis Arena, the center is served by the Detroit People Mover with its own station. Cobo Center has several large, attached parking garages, and direct access to the Lodge Freeway. The facility is located along the Detroit International Riverfront.

Cobo Center is the home of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), which it hosts each January, and Detroit Autorama, which it hosts each March. There are about 5,000 hotel rooms in downtown Detroit with 4,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the center.[1]


The Center and its attached arena initially cost $56 million was designed by Detroit Architect Gino Rossetti of the firm ROSSETTI, and took four years to complete. It is located on the site where Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French colonist, first set foot and landed on the banks of the river in July 1701 and claimed the area for France in the name of King Louis XIV.

As one of the nation's first large convention centers, Cobo became even bigger when renovations and expansions were completed in 1989. At a cost of $225 million, it nearly doubled in size to 2.4 million total square feet and was renamed Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center. Now, the Center offers 723,000 square feet of prime exhibit space in five exhibit halls ranging in size from 100,000 to 200,000 square feet. Cobo's design allows the adjoining four exhibit halls on the main floor to form 623,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space.

The first convention at Cobo Center was held in 1960 by the Florists' Telegraph Delivery (FTD). The first event was the 43rd Auto Industry Dinner on October 17, 1960. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the keynote speaker.

Since 1965, the largest event held in Cobo Center is the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), occurring annually in January. This event draws thousands of international press and suppliers during its initial five days and has a charity preview party for 11,000 guests the evening before the public opening.[2] Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised an average of $2.4 million yearly for southeastern Michigan children's charities. After the Charity Preview party, the NAIAS is open to the public for ten days, drawing, on average, 735,000 attendees.[3]

Joe Louis Arena, named after boxer and former heavyweight champion Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit, was built adjacent and connected to the Cobo Center, and completed in 1979 at a cost of $57 million. It has a seating capacity of 20,058 and is the home of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. Currently, Joe Louis Arena is still used as expanded event space for major events in Cobo Center under partnership agreements with Olympia Entertainment.

In 1987, the City of Detroit began operations of the city's elevated light-rail system, the Detroit People Mover, with stations in both Cobo Center and Joe Louis Arena. The People Mover connects attendees to all Center events with hotels and restaurants in the Renaissance Center, Greektown, Bricktown, Times Square, and throughout the Detroit Financial District.

Every sitting U.S. President since 1960 (Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) has addressed a convention or attended an event at Cobo Center.[citation needed] Prior to becoming President, Barack Obama also visited, but he has not yet done so since taking office.

In 2009, Cobo Center became owned (under a 30-year capital lease) 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.[4] Consensus agreement from the authority is needed for all decisions, and it has become a model for regional cooperation in Southeast Michigan.[5]

In October 2010, the DRCFA awarded the contract for operations management of Cobo Center to SMG, an international venue management, marketing and development company.[3] This contract was extended to run through September 2016 by the DRCFA in 2013.

In 2011, Cobo Center became a Lighthouse facility with Detroit's Project Lighthouse a security partnership with 30 downtown facilities that combine security information and resources, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist those in need in the Downtown Detroit area. Each Lighthouse facility works in conjunction with a network of all major law enforcement units, including the Detroit Police Department, Customs and Border Patrol, Homeland Security and the Coast Guard.

Cobo Arena

The 12,000-seat Cobo Arena was attached to Cobo Center, and was renovated for adaptive reuse and reopened as a 40,000 square foot ballroom with pre-function, 21 additional meeting rooms and a 30,000 square-foot three-story glass atrium overlooking the Detroit River in September 2013.

Cobo Arena was originally built in 1960. It was the home court of the NBA's Detroit Pistons from 1961–78. It was the venue of the NCAA Men's Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships from 1965–81. It has also hosted many concerts through the years including The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Parliament-Funkadelic, Duran Duran, the Cure, Phish and Madonna. Bob Seger recorded all of Live Bullet and part of Nine Tonight at Cobo Hall. Yes recorded two songs at Cobo Arena for their Yesshows album, released in 1980. Kiss recorded most of live album Alive! and video Animalize Live Uncensored at Cobo Hall and is it featured in their video for Modern Day Delilah. As the venue for "Big Time Wrestling" on every other Saturday night in the 1960s and the 1970s; it was considered to be the "Home the Sheik built!"[citation needed] It was also home to the Detroit Rockers of the National Professional Indoor Soccer League and the short-lived Michigan Stags of the World Hockey Association.

Cobo Arena also hosted Presidential speeches, boxing, wrestling, figure skating, roller derby and local Detroit-area graduation ceremonies. On June 23, 1963, following the Detroit Walk to Freedom civil rights march, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the original version of his I Have A Dream speech there to a full house.[6][7]

Photo gallery


4 Detroit Free Press, 7/14/13, Detroit authority keeps Cobo makeover on time, on budget

3 Crain's Detroit Business, 9/27/13 Authority extends SMG's management contract of Cobo for 3 more years

3 Lansing State Journal, 11/14/13, Sheryl Crow to play at Detroit auto show preview

3 MLive, 1/28,2013 2013 Detroit auto show attendance highest in nearly 10 years

6 MLive, 4/6/12, End of an era: Looking back at Cobo Arena's storied history

External links

Preceded by
Olympia Stadium
Home of the Detroit Pistons
Succeeded by
Pontiac Silverdome