2020 Detroit Auto Show Cancelled Due to Coronavirus; Venue to Become Field Hospital

2020 was going to be a big year for the North American International Auto Show: It was to be the first time that the event, long held in January, would take place in June. The move to warmer weather was supposed to have been accompanied by a new lineup of satellite shows and a series of outdoor exhibitions in Detroit’s downtown and along its riverfront.

Unfortunately, all that is going to have to wait until 2021: The Detroit show and all associated events have been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This is not just a matter of ensuring social distancing. According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, the event’s primary venue, TCF Center — formerly known as Cobo Hall — has been selected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for use as a field hospital. It is expected to be in use for at least six months.

TCF Center is a large facility, with 723,000 square feet of exhibition space (and more than 1 million additional square feet of extra space, including numerous conference halls, meeting rooms and a large ballroom). It is unclear how much of that space FEMA may repurpose, but it’s obvious this new duty affords no room for a car show.

NAIAS is not the only show to be affected by the virus; the Geneva motor show was called off in early March, and the New York International Auto Show has been moved to August. That latter event’s venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, has also been pressed into service as a temporary hospital. It will be used to provide 1,000 beds for patients not suffering from coronavirus, as New York City expects the pandemic to place an unprecedented strain on its medical facilities.

Photos posted by the US Army Corps of Engineers of the inside of the Manhattan event space give us an idea of what TCF Center might look like in the coming days and week:

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, USACE Commanding General and 54th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, surveys the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, where USACE will adapt 160,000 square feet of space over multiple floors to provide 1,000 beds for non-COVID-19 patients. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/VJkypVkXZZ

According to the Free Press, the Detroit auto show will resume next year, with public show days slated for June 13-20.

NAIAS organizers said they were disappointed but felt that with more than 100 convention centers being considered to potentially serve as temporary hospitals, using the TCF Center became “an inevitable option” as a care facility.

Show organizers said they are meanwhile discussing plans for fundraising later this year to benefit the children’s charities that were supposed to have benefited from this year’s Charity Preview event.

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