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Report: Cobo Center more than doubled revenue, cut subsidies in latest fiscal year

The regional organization operating Cobo Center more than doubled its revenue in 2011 compared with 2010, according to a statement today.

Cobo ended the 2011 fiscal year Sept. 30 with $7.6 million, compared with $3.6 million in 2010. The level of state and federal subsidies also dropped from $20 million in 2010 to $12.5 million in 2011.

“We’re operating Cobo as a business rather than a department of municipal government, which is what Cobo was before the authority was created,” said Patrick Bero, CEO and CFO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority.

The authority — made up of representatives from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties as well as the city of Detroit and state of Michigan — took over management of Cobo in September 2009.

Financial information about Cobo is attributed to an audit conducted for the authority by Troy-based Doeren Mayhew & Co. PC. A copy of the audit was requested by Crain’s but not received as of this afternoon.

Bero attributes the improved financial performance to the hiring of a professional management firm, West Conshohocken, Pa.-based SMG. The sales team has increased activity and negotiated more favorable vendor contracts.

Besides hiring a management firm, the authority brought in a professional food service vendor, Stamford Conn.-based Centerplate Inc.

Cobo is in the midst of the third and final phase of a $279 million capital improvement program. So far, $46 million has been spent on the first two phases of the renovations.

Boosting the center’s future outlook is a five-year contract signed with the Detroit Auto Dealers Association last month to keep the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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