Management Today - Spring 2016 - 38


PROFILES

"The sign of truly successful and great people is that they are confident enough in their own abilities that
they are willing to say they don't know what they don't know." -Patrick Bero, CEO/CFO

Dramatic
Change
COBO CENTER IN
DETROIT IS ON THE RISE
THANKS TO SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENTS IN
IMPROVEMENTS.
>DETROIT REGIONAL
CONVENTION FACILITY AUTHORITY

BY CHRIS PETERSEN

It's no secret that the last few
decades have been rough ones for the
city of Detroit. The rest of the nation has
watched as economic hardships have
rocked the Motor City, bringing the city
to its knees. Although there remains a
lot of work to do to bring the city back
to the levels of prosperity it enjoyed
in much of the 20th century, there are
areas where positive change can be seen.
One of the most prominent of those
bright spots has been the city's Cobo
Center, Detroit's 2.4-million-squarefoot convention and events center. After
a long period of mismanagement and
dwindling resources, Cobo Center is
undergoing a significant transformation
and revitalization under the management of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA).
Built in 1960 and originally known
as Cobo Hall, the facility is the home
of the North American International
Auto Show and Detroit Autorama. Cobo
Center was one of the nation's earliest
large-scale convention centers, and has
hosted events ranging from concerts
to political rallies to sporting events.
Although the facility had been expanded
and upgraded over the years, DRCFA
CEO and CFO Patrick Bero says the

38

// Detroit's 2.4-million-square-foot convention
and events center is undergoing a significant
transformation and revitalization.

most recent recession and the city's
depleted resources meant that Cobo
Center was having a hard time competing with other facilities for large-scale
events. Thanks to a lack of support from
the city and poor management, the number of large-scale events hosted by Cobo
Center dropped from about 20 in 1988 to
just two in 2008. "Our customers were
voting with their feet," Bero says.
The last straw came in 2008, when
the North American International Auto
Show announced it would no longer
hold the event in Cobo Center unless
major renovations were made. Bero says
the loss of the auto show would have
been more than a blow to Cobo Center,
but also a major economic blow to a city
that was already feeling the pinch of the
recession more than most others. "It's
the equivalent of a Super Bowl every

MANAGEMENTTODAY-MAGAZINE.COM SPRING 2016

single year here in Detroit," he says.
"That shock to the system really is what
caused the state and the entire region to
come together."
Before 2008, Cobo Center was
managed and funded by the city, but
Bero says the corruption and mismanagement that plagued Detroit's government made it impossible for the city to
put together the hundreds of millions
of dollars needed to modernize Cobo
Center. With the state legislature and
-------------------------------------- [ PROFILE ]
Detroit Regional Convention Facility
Authority
www.drcfa.org
Headquarters: Detroit
Specialty: Convention center management
Employees: 120
---------------------------------------------------


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Management Today - Spring 2016

Contents
Management Today - Spring 2016 - Cover1
Management Today - Spring 2016 - Cover2
Management Today - Spring 2016 - 1
Management Today - Spring 2016 - Contents
Management Today - Spring 2016 - 3
Management Today - Spring 2016 - 4
Management Today - Spring 2016 - 5
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Management Today - Spring 2016 - Cover3
Management Today - Spring 2016 - Cover4
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