By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
America's Great Comeback City has a whole new look
Everybody loves a comeback, and right now Detroit is successfully proving that ageold adage. Within the last few years, major expansions, renovations, and city programs have slowly but surely changed not only the experience of Detroit, but its image as well. Companies have moved downtown in record numbers, and employees, residents, and visitors are following. And downtown's lively riverfront and variety of cultural attractions and championship sports — from the Detroit Tigers to The Henry Ford museum complex — ensure that the city's hotels, many of which are new or newly renovated, are packed and buzzing.
At the centerpiece of this destination-wide transformation is Cobo Center, which is currently completing a $300-million renovation and expansion. The SMG-managed facility will debut a total of 2.4 million square feet of completely revamped, state-of-the-art space by the end of 2014. Among those spaces is an exhibit hall with 625,000 square feet of contiguous space, 100,000 square feet of additional exhibit space on the river level, and 195,000 square feet of meeting-room space. Banquet rooms and ballrooms spread throughout the facility — a 27,000-squarefoot ballroom on the concourse level, a banquet room of the same size on the second level, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom overlooking the riverfront — mean multiple events can take place simultaneously. With customer input and extensive industry research kept in mind during the planning process, Cobo Center now offers an exceptional meeting experience that meets the needs of both planners and attendees.
Downtown Detroit is experiencing a rebirth as well. Some of the destination's largest companies are moving downtown turning the city's great architectural landmarks into mixed-use developments that pay homage to the city's past while looking forward to the future. In the past 10 years, more than $15 billion has been invested into new downtown projects, from sports and entertainment venues to new offices for General Motors, Compuware, and Quicken Loans. New restaurants, retail, and nightlife have sprung up as well. Culturally, Detroit has never been richer. More than 30 art museums call Detroit home, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the fifth-largest fine-arts museum in the country, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the largest of its kind in the world. Detroit is also among the largest theater districts in the country, and visitors can take in a show at the elaborate Fox Theatre or a concert at the Masonic Temple.
There are also plenty of new experiences to discover at Detroit's three casinos. The MGM Grand Detroit recently added the Wolfgang Puck Steak restaurant to the property, which also includes a 400-room hotel, a 20,000-square-foot spa, five dining options, and a 100,000-square-foot casino. In downtown, Greektown Casino-Hotel has also debuted a new signature restaurant, Brizola, which focuses on steak, seafood, and wine. Greektown's 400-room hotel includes six restaurants and a casino with 2,700 slots and video-poker machines, while the AAA Four-Diamond MotorCity Casino Hotel has six dining options, 67,000 square feet of function and banquet space, 400 hotel rooms, a 13,000-square-foot spa, and a casino.
For more information: Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau — (888) 225-5389 or (313) 202-1800; meetdetroit.com
Cobo Center Highlights
• The newly revamped, 2.4-million-square-foot Cobo Center offers one of the largest exhibit floors in the country and can sustain more weight than any venue in North America.
• Getting to Detroit is as easy as getting around Detroit. The city is within a 90-minute flight of 60 percent of the U.S. population, and attendees can access the city's 2.9-mile monorail through a dedicated station on the third level of Cobo Center.
• Meeting attendees won't have to look far to see changes in the city. The city has invested more than $15 billion into re-energizing its downtown, from new sports and entertainment venues to three world-class casinos and several new luxury hotels within walking distance of Cobo Center.
• Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), a major hub for Delta Air Lines, is one of the best-connected airports in the nation, with service on more than 13 passenger airlines. Visitors have more than 1,200 daily flights at their disposal, traveling to and from nearly 150 nonstop destinations on four continents.
Convention Center Specs
Total contiguous exhibit space
625,000 square feet on the concourse level, plus 100,000 square feet on the river level
A 27,000-square-foot ballroom on the concourse level, a 27,000-square-foot banquet hall on the second level, and the 40,000-square-front riverfront ballroom
Total meeting space
195,000 square feet
Meeting and banquet rooms
31 enclosed bays, 28 freight doors, and 10 freight elevators
7,000 within four blocks
Downtown hotel rooms