Regional Convention Facility Authority Has Saved Taxpayers $91.7 Million Since 2009

The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) reports that it has saved the state’s taxpayers an estimated $91.7 million since its inception in 2009, saw earnings of more than $1.69 million last year, and that Cobo Center had a record-setting year in 2018.
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Cobo Center
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority reported Cobo Center had 426 event days in 2018. // File photo

The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) reports that it has saved the state’s taxpayers an estimated $91.7 million since its inception in 2009, saw earnings of more than $1.69 million last year, and that Cobo Center had a record-setting year in 2018.

Combined with the estimated $30 million saved by the financing structure employed for its capital program and the $22.1 million saved from the defeasance of the 2003 bonds that were inherited from the city of Detroit, the DRCFA says it saved the state’s approximately $91.7 million just from financial management since it took over Cobo’s management.

The authority also reported that Cobo Center had a record-setting year in 2018 with 426 event days, and has seen a 564-percent increase in revenue since 2009. Contributing to that was more than $1.69 million in earnings last year.

“As we mark a decade of the DRCFA and tremendous success in a public-private partnership, our focus now must be on the implementation of the common vision of our board to create the next generation of a convention center development that will provide ongoing growth in tourism revenues, tax dollars, and jobs for our region,” says Larry Alexander, chairman of the DRCFA board. “With Detroit and Cobo Center on the national and international stage, we must always be striving for continuous growth while providing world-class customer service and a valuable return to our state tax holders.”

Over the past three years, the DRCFA reports, the Convention Facility Development Fund (CFDF) has generated excess funds that are dedicated to the early retirement of debt according to the terms of the authority’s enabling legislation. The DRCFA used excess CFDF proceeds to retire more than $54 million in outstanding bond principal, saving taxpayers $39.6 million.

“We are very pleased with the progress being made toward paying down the bonds and the significant benefit it brings to the taxpayers and counties,” says Patrick Bero, CEO and CFO of the DRCFA. “Our goal continues to be saving Michigan taxpayers money by paying off the bonds ahead of schedule. We hope to continue to attract large conventions and events to Detroit by providing a world-class convention center for all of our patrons.”

Also this year, the authority awarded Cobo Center naming rights for 22 years to Chemical Bank. The new name will be announced by the end of this year.

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