By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) “I’ve never seen Cobo Hall look so good.”

Detroit’s new Mayor, Mike Duggan, declared himself impressed, after touring Cobo Center, just days before the start of press previews for the North American International Auto Show.

The mayor given a look at some of the new attractions, made possible by the Cobo renovation, as well as the show floor itself. It’s been under construction since early November.

While Duggan has attended the auto show several times, this is the first time he’s the VIP tour, winding through a construction site where finishing touches are being put on what essentially are multi-story buildings.

“It’s pretty exciting to see all the people working,” he said. “Just from what I can tell, the displays look like they are going to be far more elaborate than they were a couple of years ago. That’s exciting to see.”

A few cars were visible on the floor. Others were on car carriers parked outside the building. A lot of wiring and carpeting work was still being done, as forklifts crisscrossed the convention center floor.

“The logistics are amazing,” said Duggan. “All of the workers working on these elaborate displays. It’s hard to believe they will be ready for Monday morning. But, it looks like they know what they are doing.”

Auto Show Chairman Bob Shuman says the hundreds of construction workers, electricians and others who are on the floor of Cobo are well aware of the deadline, and always meet it.

“Y’know, it’s all going to be ready 6 a.m., Monday morning, that’s the goal.”

Also opening Monday morning, Cobo’s new food court. In the past, festival style food stands were placed on the floor of Cobo Arena. Now, as part of the new area that replaced the arena, there’s a small glass walled atrium, with tables, and several food stands, selling Detroit themed products.

“Detroit Deep Dish Pizza,” says Jason Houghgard, General Manager of Centerplate Catering. “Then the Polish stand, which I’m particularly proud of, because you don’t see Polish probably at any other convention center in the country.”

That includes kielbasa and pierogi as well as Coney Dogs and the traditional burgers and fries.

The food court sits above the new Cobo Atrium that opened last year, and not far from the new grand ballrooms, which will host a number of private functions. They complete the long-awaited renovation of the facility.

“This is exactly what Detroit needs,” says show chair Shuman.

The Auto Show opens to the public Saturday morning January 18th, following Friday evening’s Charity Preview. Shuman says charity preview ticket sales are up 12 percent from last year.

“We’re ahead of last year,” he said. “We’re trying to hit that four million dollar mark for children’s charities of the Detroit area. I hope we’re gonna hit it.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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