By Jeff Gilbert
DETROIT (WWJ) – With a little more than a month to go, it’s beginning to look a lot like an auto show inside Cobo Center.
Workers have been constructing the elaborate exhibits since early November. They have a little less than a month before the first press previews for the show on Jan. 13, 2014.
“A lot of these here in Detroit are specifically built just for Cobo Center,” said show Chairman Bob Shuman. “They use dry wall; they use paint. It’s like they are building a house or building. Then they rip it all down at the end.”
A walk through of Cobo showed many walls, and many lights already installed. Crews were testing large video screens, and dozens of boxes were stacked in each exhibit.
The two and a half months of work that goes into putting the auto show together helps contribute to the shows economic impact on the area, measured at $365 million.
Shuman is hoping that sales of the $350 tickets to the Charity Preview will help the show raise more than four million dollars for children’s charities. This year’s preview — Friday night, Jan. 17 — will also feature a performance by Sheryl Crow, and a special “Studio 25” party afterwards in the Grand Riverview Ballroom. Tickets for that will be an additional $150.
On Saturday morning, Jan.18, the doors will open to the public.
“I think one of the first things they’ll notice are the changes to Cobo Center,” said Shuman. “We’ve got the grand ballroom open. The riverfront atrium is completely done.”
They will also see around fifty new products and concept vehicles, Some of those vehicles will be unveiled in grand style.
General Motors, which debuted the new Corvette at an off site event the night before, is using the same formula to show the world the new GMC Canyon pickup. Ford will again use Joe Louis arena to unveil a product that it’s not discussing, but is widely believed to be a new round of F-Series pickup trucks. Ford will also use the new ballrooms for special auto show events.
Tesla is also planning a news conference at the show. Early indications are that it will be a corporate announcement, not a new product. Although, Tesla has been working on developing a mass market electric vehicle to go along with its popular high-end Model S.
As he looked at the construction site inside Cobo Center, Shuman marveled at how everything tends to come together right before the doors open to the show.
“We’re gonna get everything done. It’s all going to be perfect.”