The Cobo Center Transformation Continues With the Atrium and Grand Riverview Ballroom Opening

Sep 9, 2013

DETROIT September 7, 2013 -- Thom Connors, SMG regional vice president and general manager of Cobo Center announced today the completion of the adaptive re-use renovation of the former Cobo Arena. Opening to VIP customers and media at an event designed to showcase the capabilities of the transformed spaces, the new Grand Riverview Ballroom and adjacent event areas were filled with audio visual displays, event decorating options, acrobats, bands, choirs, food and beverage selections and many other displays to fill the senses and maximize event success.

In his welcome speech at the opening event, Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, the state-established authority governing Cobo Center since 2009, said “this story is but one of the many transformations being spurred by regional cooperation and/or private investment in southeast Michigan, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Construction began in February 2012 to transform the 12,000 seat Cobo Arena into the new, glass enclosed events spaces that open up the facility to floor to ceiling views of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario.

Features of the new 40,000 sq ft Grand Riverview Ballroom
1. Capacity: 3,500 for theater style; 2250 for banquets
2. Hydraulic lift stage for dramatic introductions or product reveals
3. 40’ ceiling height with rigging grid throughout
a. 1500-2500 pound limits per point
4. Movable partitions to divide the room for simultaneous activity
a. Also provides maximum sound baffling when rooms used simultaneously
5. Dramatic lighting effects including:
a. Decorative sconces
b. Stylized overhead lighting
c. Ceiling mounted remote control stage and spot lights
d. All lighting instruments LED and color programmable
6. Strong internet bandwidth available including WiFi and hard wired access points
7. 21,000 sq ft of meeting space directly below


Features of the Cobo Center Atrium
1. Dimensions: 250 feet long, 80 feet tall and 65 feet wide. The Atrium is three stories tall, but is technically two floors and a mezzanine
2. Floor space: 30,000 square feet of contiguous space, 16,000 square feet on the main floor between the columns
3. Create a direct connection between new riverfront entrance and main concourse
4. Floor to ceiling glass (three-stories) with open views from the concourse to the Detroit River and Canada
5. Capacity: 600 people seated for meals, 1,000 people seated theater-style, and 1,200 people standing

Still to come
8. 8,000 sq ft high-end production kitchen
a. Includes enclosed “Chef’s Table” tasting room
9. Food court and 230 seat Cyber Cafe
10. Underground garage providing covered valet drop off to Atrium

The entire $279 million renovation began in September of 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2015. The final phases of the Cobo Center transformation will include: a TV broadcast studio with satellite up-link capability; giant exterior video walls for event information and advertising; a state-of-the-art Scala wayfinding system; open air terrace overlooking the river for event and community programming.

“One of the first things our guests saw at the ballroom opening was a presentation of the history of Cobo Center with a big screen photo montage of Cobo in various stages of construction and with several historic events since 1960,” said Connors. “Pictures like Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech two months before it was delivered in Washington DC gave everyone a feeling of Cobo Center’s pivotal place in the history of our country.”

About Cobo Center: With 723,000 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. Visit for more information.

About the DRCFA: On 9/15/09, operational control of Cobo Center transferred to the Detroit Regional
Convention Facility Authority, under a collaborative agreement by the Michigan State Legislature, the City of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Each of these entities has an appointed member on the DRCFA Board. Larry Alexander is Chairman the Board as the member appointed by the Governor of the
State of Michigan. For more information visit: