William Shatner, Cher, Brett Favre—Americans love second acts and revivals, which might explain why people (and planners) are so bullish about Detroit again. Though you can still rightfully call it Motor City, Detroit also now wins raves for its downtown sports venues, 5,000 downtown hotel rooms and its updated and expanded Cobo Center for conventions.
Plus, ongoing redevelopment in “the D” also includes dozens of new restaurants, spiffed-up parks, and one of the country’s most vibrant art scenes (both inside and out—more on that later). It’s no wonder so many organizations are planning their events and meetings here. (Think the U.S. Figure Skating National Championship, the National Society of Black Engineers and the SAE International World Conference in the first months of 2019 alone.)
“It’s been quite a transformation, to say the least,” says Dave Beachnau, senior vice president of sales, marketing and sports for Visit Detroit. “We’ve seen so much development across the region.”
Perhaps the biggest draw? The dazzling Cobo Center which, thanks to a recent $279-million renovation and expansion, now boasts 2.4-million square feet of events space. Highlights include the 40,000-sq.-ft. Grand Riverview Ballroom (think dazzling water vistas and glimpses of Windsor, Ontario), which can host 3,500 people theater-style or 2,250 for a banquet, and an atrium which can accommodate 1,200 people standing. Plus, it’s a high-tech marvel, with a $2-million Rocket Fibre Wi-Fi network (up to 32,000 can use it at once!) and, through the space, pod furniture with its own charging stations. You can get there, and to many downtown hotels, via the innovative People Mover, a kind of futuristic monorail.