By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) Mayor Dave Bing says the changes being made to Cobo Center are an example of the improvements he aims to make in the City of Detroit.

“This is just a microcosm of what I think our city can become,” said the mayor, after touring the Cobo floor, where millions of dollars of work has been done to prepare for this year’s North American International Auto Show.

VIDEO: Mayor Bing tours the Auto Show.

When press previews for the show begin on Monday, the opening ceremonies will be held on a stage now being built in the brand new riverfront atrium. Crews are now putting finishing touches on the atrium, and a large staircase leading to it.

“I don’t think three or four years ago, anybody thought this was possible,” said Bing. “As you can see, this has been an unbelievable transformation.”

Construction is still being done to transform Cobo Arena, where Bing used to play basketball for the Detroit Pistons. It will become more meeting space.

Bing, however, said the new atrium–with views of the Detroit River, will make a big impression on show-goers.

“You just have to look up and you can get a crane in your neck,” he said. “This is absolutely wonderful. The engineering and the ingenuity that’s been put into the expansion of this building is something that none of us probably ever dreamed of.”

Auto show organizers took Bing on a tour of the Cobo Floor, where crews were putting carpet into place, and doing final tests on large video systems. A number of companies have all new exhibits. Nissan, and its luxury brand Infiniti, which had skipped this show for a couple of years, are back with large displays and new models.

Toyota has its largest display ever, moving into space that was added in an expansion last year.

Organizers of the show feel that everything is coming together.

Photo Gallery: Auto Show Tour With Mayor Dave Bing

(credit: George Fox/CBS 62)

(George Fox/CBS 62)

“I just feel pride in this city and this region and what we all, and every single person here has done to pull this off,” said auto show vice chair Bob Shuman. “It’s beautiful.”

Another change at the show this year is the addition of healthy food at a new stand called “Go Natural.” It features fresh sandwiches and salads.

“People are becoming more health conscious these days,” said general manager Jason Hogard. “The typical stuff, the burgers and the fries, isn’t filling the niche.”

Burgers, fries, hot dogs and pizza will be available at other stands. Next year’s show will include a full food court.

Press previews of the North American International Auto Show begin on Monday. That will be followed by Industry Previews, and the big black-tie Charity Preview on Friday, January 18th. The show opens the following morning.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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