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Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority Extends SMG Management Agreement of Cobo Center
Wes Wesley, president and CEO of SMG, announced
today the three-year extension of the SMG Management Agreement to oversee the dayto-
day operations of Cobo Center, originally signed in 2010.
Mr. 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
• 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
product 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 of 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 uplink
capability; giant exterior video walls for event information and advertising; a state-ofthe-
art Scala wayfinding system; open air terrace overlooking the river for event and
About Cobo Center
With 723,000 square feet 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 www.cobocenter.com.
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 www.smgworld.com 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 www.drcfa.org.
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