Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Cobo Center

Cobo Center is Detroit’s convention hall. Located along the Detroit riverfront on Jefferson Avenue, it is named for Albert E. Cobo, mayor of Detroit from 1950 to 1957. Cobo Center was designed by Giffels & Rossetti and opened in 1960, with the design incorporating space for the Lodge Freeway to pass underneath, parking space on the roof, and an arena, once home to the Detroit Pistons.

Expanded in 1989, the present complex of 2,400,000 square feet includes 700,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than double the original footage. The renovation provided banquet rooms, 80 meeting rooms, a ballroom that captured a panoramic view of the Detroit River.

Events held at Cobo Center include the annual North American International Auto Show, the International G-7 Job Summit, the annual Society of Automotive Engineers International Congress, and the world's largest sit-down dinner, hosted by the Detroit NAACP Freedom Institute.

Until September 2009, Cobo Center was owned and operated by the City of Detroit. On September 15, 2009, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) took over operations of Cobo Center under a collaborative agreement with the Michigan State Legislature, the City of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The board operates with five members, one from each body, and is heralded as an example of successful regional cooperation.

In 2010, the DRFCA began a $279 million upgrade to Cobo Center. Over the course of five years numerous improvements were made such as an electrical upgrade, improvements to the loading dock’s concrete, repairs to roof leaks, new catering and technology features including the Detroit Made Kitchen food court. The number of meeting rooms has increased to 100 and there are now three ballrooms, one of which is the converted arena, called the Grand Riverview Ballroom. A three-story, 30,000 square foot atrium with a view of the river, was added and public access all around the building has been improved.

The building is filled with art, such as works by Carl Milles, Gilda Snowden, Sergio De Giusti, Tyree Guyton, and a large-scale fresco by Hubert Massey depicting aspects of Detroit’s history. There is also a Detroit People Mover station inside the Center.

 


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Cobo Hall Post Folder, 1964

Photograph of Cobo Hall, 1962

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