Detroit Auto Show canceled as FEMA declares TCF Center a COVID-19 field hospital
The TCF Center, home of Detroit's North American International Auto Show, is getting repurposed.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Formally known as the North American International Auto Show, the Detroit show was moved to June this year after occupying a winter slot on the international car show circuit for decades. The reenvisioned show, which was set to include outdoor activities such as ride-and-drives and self-driving car displays, will instead take place in June 2021.
NAIAS had planned to offer media days on June 9 and 10, with public show days running June 13 to 20.
Word of NAIAS 2020's cancellation came via a memo sent March 28 from show organizers to sponsors. When reached by phone March 28, 2020 NAIAS Chair Doug North told Roadshow: "We haven't even begun to worry about the financial impact of the show.... We're completely supportive of this change. We know it's the right thing to do.... We're just focused on making sure we can get southeast Michigan healthy."
Auto show organizers were aware that FEMA had been procuring a series of convention centers, so the designation of TCF Center as a field hospital didn't come as a surprise, North said. As a tenant of the downtown-Detroit conventional facility, NAIAS wasn't contacted directly by FEMA. Its organizers learned about the decision from TCF authorities on March 27.
FEMA has designated that the overflow hospital be in place "for at least six months," the Detroit Free Press reported.
In a subsequent statement released March 28, NAIAS organizers confirmed that "all tickets purchased for the 2020 NAIAS show, including tickets for the Public Show, Industry Preview and Charity Preview, will be fully refunded." People who bought charity gala tickets can receive a refund or designate that the money go to one of nine charities.