Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Facilities Update
Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority Extends SMG Management Agreement Of Cobo Center For Another Three-Year Term

DRCFA Board Approves and Authorized a Three-Year Extension (September 30, 2013 Through September 30, 2016) in Light Of SMG Excellent Performance

Wes Wesley, president and CEO of SMG, announced recently the three-year extension of the SMG Management Agreement to oversee the day- to-day operations of Cobo Center, originally signed in 2010.

Wesley said of the contract renewal, "SMG sincerely appreciates this vote of confidence from the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority. We are proud to be a part of the team they put together to reorganize and renovate Cobo Center."

During the September 12th meeting of the DRCFA that voted to extend the agreement, Patrick Bero, CEO/CFO announced, "As we near the conclusion of SMG's three-year management agreement term, there have been significant achievements to improve Cobo Center's performance." The improvements mentioned include:

  • Operating revenue, excluding the state operating subsidy and parking revenue, has increased 52.7%
  • During the same three-year period, operating expenses have decreased by 11.9% while simultaneously absorbing numerous administrative functions that were previously provided by support department of the City of Detroit (Finance, Human Resources and Marketing to name a few).
  • Building maintenance and efficiency have greatly improved.
  • Employee supervision and training have been expanded resulting in recognizable improvements in the quality of guest service and rising customer satisfaction scores.
  • Coordinated advertising, sales and promotional efforts with the DMCVB highlighting the Cobo Center capital, operations and service improvements combined with the leveraging of the SMG brand has resulted in a substantial turnaround in the perception of Cobo Center within the convention, trade show and meeting industry.
  • SMG's management of customer relationships, attention to detail and determination to exceed customer expectations have been major contributing factors toward the retention of existing business (NAIAS, SAE), the recapture of lost business (SME) and the forging of new relationships that we hope will produce significant value for the city, region and state in the years to come (Veterans, Military, Medical and ASAE).

"The Cobo team has accomplished a good deal a short period of time, most significantly with the multi-year auto show agreement. Now we are seeing an increase in convention bookings in response to the amazing improvements that have been made with the facility as well as in the way business is conducted at Cobo," said Thom Connors, regional vice president and general manager of SMG/Cobo Center.

In September of 2010, the DRCFA embarked on a renovation of Cobo Center, and the SMG success in the facility has been despite the obvious obstacles presented to a convention center under construction. On September 7, 2013, the new Grand Riverview Ballroom and Atrium opened for business, representing $115 million of the entire $279 million capital improvements project, which will be completed in 2015. The final phases of the Cobo Center transformation will include: a TV broadcast studio with satellite up- link capability; giant exterior video walls for event information and advertising; a state-of- the-art Scala wayfinding system; open air terrace overlooking the river for event and community programming.

About Cobo Center:With 723,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, Cobo Center boasts one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America and is the 19th largest convention center in the country. Visit online at

About SMG:Since 1977, SMG has provided management services to more than 220 public assembly facilities including arenas, stadiums, theatres and performing arts centers, equestrian facilities and convention, congress and exhibition centers. Visit for more information.

About the DRCFA:On 9/15/09, operational control of Cobo Center transferred to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, under a collaborative agreement by the Michigan State Legislature, the City of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Each of these entities has an appointed member on the DRCFA Board. Larry Alexander is Chairman the Board as the member appointed by the Governor of the State of Michigan. For more information visit: .

Meet Brilliantly