For years the annual North American Auto Show in Detroit has been the crown-jewel of the U.S. auto-show circuit, where automakers unveiled their hottest new vehicles and created their wildest presentations. But in recent years Detroit has faced stiff competition from shows in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, which are getting their own share of celebrity-studded product launches. Now, according to a report from The Detroit News, if the Michigan government fails to approve a 120,000 square-foot expansion of Detroit's Cobo Center, the event's organizers may move the North American Auto Show to another state, or even sell their rights to it entirely.

Having lobbied for the Cobo Center's expansion for over a decade, the show's organizers are now attempting to circumvent local officials and push through legislation to approve the required funding within 30 days. If it fails to pass, they would be forced to consider leaving Detroit. Joe Serra, senior co-chairman of the auto show, says "we want to keep it (in Detroit), but time has run out," adding "it's also time to do the right thing for the show, which means we have to look at alternatives."

So what would those alternatives be? According to The Detroit News, one scenario is selling the show's naming rights to Chicago, which would make the Windy City the permanent home of America's premier auto show. Another possibility would be to turn the North American Auto Show into a touring event, giving places like New York, LA, and Miami a chance to host it each year. Detroit would then become a smaller, regional auto show like many others across the country. Organizers of the event are frustrated with government roadblocks and the inability of Michigan politicians to work together and pass legislation. Doug Fox, owner of the five-store Ann Arbor Automotive, explained that they've reached "the point where we have to explore all remedies."

While cities like Chicago, New York, and LA have all arguably become more important automotive markets than Detroit, holding the largest domestic car show in the state where the Detroit Three automakers are headquartered has always seemed like a natural fit. Then again, as designing and building cars becomes an increasingly global enterprise, maybe giving other cities the chance to hold the biggest auto exhibition of the year isn't such a bad idea. Whether the 2009 North American Auto Show will be downgraded to just another regional event remains to be seen, but considering that its organizers want the Michigan legislature to take action within 30 days, we should know soon enough.

Source: The Detroit News