Cobo Center unveils new atrium to add to success of 2013 NAIAS

Jan 31, 2013

Detroit, MI – Thom Connors, SMG regional vice president and general manager of Cobo Center, announced today that the riverfront atrium that was temporarily put into service for the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is now closed for final construction and will open again this summer with the 40,000 square foot Grand Ballroom and surrounding state-of-the-art facilities.

“International press, visitors and local attendees were all energized by the glimpse of how the final Cobo Center renovations will add beauty and functionality to events in the center. Everyone was up-beat and primed for the show with this first peak at just how much of an impact the Cobo transformation will have,” said Connors.

“Visitors to the North American International Auto Show will likely be as impressed with the redesigned Cobo Center as they will be with the redesigned automobiles. … Visitors will see the new atrium, with its Tara-like staircase that opens up to a wall of windows giving a beautiful view of the Detroit River and the Windsor skyline,” Nolan Finley, editorial page editor for The Detroit News wrote mid-show.

Once unveiled for the NAIAS, the Cobo atrium hosted opening ceremonies and several high profile events such as the North American Car & Truck of the Year Award announcements. The Detroit Auto Dealers Association also hosted a concert by Uncle Kracker on Charity Preview night.

Other Cobo Center renovation upgrades completed in time for the NAIAS included an expanded media center sponsored by Michelin, and high-speed WiFi improvements for the system to handle up to 22,000 simultaneous users in the exhibit halls. “I always feel comfortable, knowing that we are in good hands at Cobo,” said Lyn Hock, events manager for Michelin. “Looking forward to NAIAS 2014!”

In 2011, the NAIAS signed a five-year contract with SMG to keep the show in Cobo Center through 2017. This year’s show, running from January 14-27, had a total attendance of 795,416, its best attendance in eight years.

“The 2013 NAIAS would not have reached the level of success were it not for the ongoing improvements at Cobo Center,” said Rod Alberts, executive director of the NAIAS. He added, “NAIAS is a world class event which ranks high among the top five shows in the world, but it cannot sustain that status without the support of a world class city, and a world class facility, like Cobo Center. Part of the optimism and confidence we all felt during the show went beyond the exciting vehicle introductions and industry news, and extended to the new riverfront atrium, expanded show floor, and infrastructure improvements at Cobo Center. I view Cobo and SMG as critical partners in the overall success of the NAIAS.”

About Cobo Center: With 725,000 square feet of exhibit space, Cobo Center boasts one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America and is the 19th largest convention center in the country. Visit online at

About SMG: Since 1977, SMG has provided management services to more than 220 public assembly facilities including arenas, stadiums, theatres and performing arts centers, equestrian facilities and convention, congress and exhibition centers. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 11 million square feet of exhibition space. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides construction and design consulting, pre-opening services, venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming. Visit for more information.