Cobo Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cobo Center
Cobo Center Logo.png

M-10 passes underneath, then immediately comes up to its end at street level (Jefferson Avenue).
Former names Cobo Hall
Address 1 Washington Boulevard
Location Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 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
Owner Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
(operated by SMG)
Type Convention center
Opened 1960
Renovated 1989, 2015
Expanded 2015
Architect ROSSETTI
Official website

Cobo Center (formerly Cobo Hall) is a convention center situated along Jefferson and Washington avenues in downtown Detroit, Michigan. It was named after Albert Cobo, mayor of Detroit from 1950 to 1957.

Designed by Gino Rossetti, the center opened in 1960. Expanded in 1989, the present 2,400,000 sq ft (220,000 m2) complex contains 723,000 sq ft (67,200 m2) 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. It was designed by the Detroit architectural firm Giffels & Vallet and took four years to complete. Lou Rossetti was the chief Architect of Giffels and Vallet. The Center 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, Cobo 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 newest design allows the adjoining four exhibit halls on the main floor to form 623,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space. The latest 5-year $279 million renovation that was completed in 2015, created a 40,000 square-foot ballroom through the adaptive re-use of the Cobo Arena, and includes new meeting rooms, terrace, pre-function flex space, and a three-story, 30,000 square-foot glass atrium that opens the facility up to views of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario.

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 was, until 2017, the home of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League.

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.

In January 1994, Cobo Arena was the scene of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, who was clubbed in the right knee. The incident took place in a corridor at Cobo Arena, which was the practice rink for the US Championships which were held next door at Joe Louis Arena. The assault was planned by rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt (1967–2007).[4]

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, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) has addressed a convention or attended an event at Cobo Center.[citation needed]

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 oversaw a $279 million expansion and upgrade of Cobo Center that was completed in 2015.[5] Consensus agreement from the authority is needed for all decisions, and it has become a model for regional cooperation in Southeast Michigan.[6]

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]

With the impending demolition of adjacent Joe Louis Arena, there is talk about renaming Cobo Center in memory of boxing legend Joe Louis.[7]

Cobo Arena[edit]

Cobo Arena was a multi-use arena attached to Cobo Center, and was renovated in 2015 for adaptive reuse and reopened as the 40,000 square foot Grand Riverview Ballroom with pre-function, outdoor terrace, 21 additional meeting rooms and a 30,000 square-foot three-story glass atrium overlooking the Detroit River.

Cobo Arena was originally built in 1960. It seated 12,000 and was the home court of the NBA's Detroit Pistons from 1961 to 1978. It was the venue of the NCAA Men's Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships from 1965 to 1981. It has also hosted many concerts through the years including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, Prince, The Tragically Hip, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Parliament-Funkadelic, Duran Duran, the Cure, Phish, Madonna, Anthrax, Exodus and Helloween. 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 House the Sheik built."[8] 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. It also hosted Skate America in 1995, 1997, and 1998.

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.[9][10]

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gray, Kathleen; Wisely, John (March 31, 2009). "Oakland lures, but 2010 auto show stays at Cobo". Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kovanis, Georgea (January 18, 2013). "2013 Detroit auto show charity preview: Want to get in on the glitz and glamour? It's not too late". Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Detroit, Michigan Local News, Weather, Sports from 7 Action News and WXYZ-TV Channel 7". Wxyz.Com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ Tonya, Nancy reflect on The Whack heard 'round the world, USA Today, January 3, 2014.
  5. ^ "Cobo's $299M revamp on target". [dead link]
  6. ^ Gallagher, John (May 4, 2012). "Cobo's rebirth delivers business: $299-million renovation attracts events, shows regional cooperation". Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Local man preserves Detroit wrestling through photographs". C&G Newspapers. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "Speech at the Great March on Detroit**". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 

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[edit]

Preceded by
Olympia Stadium
Home of the Detroit Pistons
Succeeded by
Pontiac Silverdome
Preceded by
Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez
Ultimate Fighting Championship venue
Succeeded by
Fair Park Arena