North American International Auto Show organizers broke with tradition this year by moving the premier trade event, for decades held in January, to a more pleasant and marketable June date. Now they’ve broken with tradition again — by scrapping the thing altogether.
The reason behind it is so glaringly obvious it hardly needs to be stated, but the specific, logistical reason is even more grim: the show’s venue, Detroit’s TCF Center (née Cobo Center), is turning into a field hospital.
Following unconfirmed reports on social media, word became fact this evening. The Detroit auto show is postponed until June of 2021, as the riverfront convention center, like that of the scuppered New York International Auto Show, is going offline for at least six months.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the show’s organizers — The Detroit Auto Dealers Association — issued a memo Saturday, stating, “The health and welfare of the citizens of Detroit and Michigan is paramount. TCF Center is the ideal location for this important function at this critical and unprecedented time.”
Like New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Center, TCF/Cobo has been tapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to transform into an overflow hospital for the area’s patients. The measure is necessary to handle an anticipated influx of coronavirus patients that would otherwise overwhelm the region’s existing medical facilities.
The NYC hospital came together in a hurry. One of four planned for the area, it boasts 1,000 beds and is expected to open this coming week:
The Javits Center is now home to 1,000 hospital beds that will be used to handle non-COVID patient overflow caused by the #coronavirus pandemic. https://t.co/figY61CVMX pic.twitter.com/iPdQNEGS7S
— Javits Center (@javitscenter) March 28, 2020
Depressingly, the New York auto show would have opened to media on April 8th. As the fast-moving pandemic gained hold in North America, organizers decided in early March to push back the event to August 28th.
Originally scheduled for June 7th to 20th, the Detroit show will not spring into fall, but instead go ahead exactly a year from its planned summertime inaugural. As participant interest waned in the digital age and the realities of holding a prestige trade show in Detroit in January became ever clearer, organizers decided to move the event to a more favorable time. Under the new plan, the city’s refurbished downtown would play host to auto show-related events outside the main venue hall, potentially increasing the show’s draw.
So, mark your calendar for June 11th, 2021, when the next NAIAS gets underway with Motor Bella — a four-day street fair featuring British and Italian vehicles and food. Press days come along on June 15th, with the show opening to the public on the 19th.
In the meantime, good luck.