Detroit Auto Show canceled as FEMA declares TCF Center a COVID-19 field hospital

NAIAS is the latest auto-show casualty of COVID 19.

Freers Photography/Detroit Auto Show

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The 2020 Detroit Auto Show
has been canceled. As originally reported by The Detroit Free Press, the annual auto expo has been nixed because the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has designated its host venue, the TCF Center, as a coronavirus field hospital site.

Formally known as the North American International Auto Show, the expo had been poised to move to June after occupying a winter time slot on the international car show circuit for decades. The reenvisioned show, which was to include a brace of outdoor activities including ride-and-drives and self-driving car displays, will instead be held in June of 2021. 

NAIAS had been scheduled to have its media days on June 9 and 10, with public show days running June 13 to 20.

Word of NAIAS 2020’s cancellation initially came via a memo sent Saturday from show organizers to sponsors. As of this writing, the auto show’s official website still shows a countdown to the start of this year’s event.  

When reached by phone Saturday night, Doug North, Chair of the 2020 North American International Auto Show, 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.” 

According to North, NAIAS organizers were aware that FEMA had been “procuring a series of convention centers, so it [the designation of TCF Center as a field hospital] was not a surprise to us.” As a tenant of the downtown-Detroit-based conventional facility, NAIAS organizers were not contacted directly by FEMA, they learned about the government agency’s decision through TCF authorities on Friday. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, FEMA has designated that the overflow hospital conversion be in place “for at least six months.”

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This news follows reports from earlier this week that Manhattan’s Javits Center, home of the New York Auto Show, has already been converted into a 2,000-bed temporary hospital to house coronavirus patients. Earlier in March, it was announced that the New York show had been postponed from early April until August.

According to North, “Our whole exec team is still intact — we’re going to move the ball forward another 12 months and continue to try to make the best show we can.”

The Detroit Auto Show is just the latest in a long string of car-related races and gatherings that have been canceled or postponed due to fallout from the coronavirus crisis. On Thursday, IndyCar announced plans to move its legendary Indianapolis 500 race from Memorial Day Weekend until August 23.

This story is developing…

First published on March 28, 2020 at 4:22 PM PDT.

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