Sheryl Crow will perform in the Atrium of Cobo Center on Friday. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Friday’s Charity Preview for the North American International Auto Show will boast superstar Sheryl Crow, Cobo’s first on-site afterglow party, and cute slippers for beleaguered women.
All that, plus a bumper year for the car companies, seems to be boosting sales — meaning this might be a good year for the nine children’s charities that split the proceeds. Despite ticket prices that are $50 higher than in 2013, sales are outstripping last year.
“We’re 15 percent ahead of where we were at this time last year,” said NAIAS spokesman Joe Rohatynski, with 12,375 tickets sold by Tuesday, compared to about 11,000 in 2013.
Charity Preview tickets, which also get you into “An Evening with Sheryl Crow” at 9:15 p.m. on the Atrium stage, are still available at $350 apiece. Of that, $340 is deductible on federal taxes.
Last year’s Charity Preview sold 13,069 tickets at $300 apiece, generating $3.9 million for charity. Increase that price by $50, and those same 13,069 tickets would bring in an additional $653,450 for charity.
This year, Rohatynski said, they’d like to garner $4.5 million. At $350 a ticket, they’re only 482 sales off that mark, which they’ll hit precisely at 12,857 tickets.
In a thoughtful gesture, the preview will offer slippers to any woman who just can’t bear another minute walking Cobo’s famously hard floors in high heels.
“Over the years we’ve noticed a lot of beautiful women carrying their beautiful shoes in their hands because their feet hurt so bad,” Rohatynski said, “so we are going to help them out.”
The black disposable slippers with purple piping are being supplied courtesy the website Cars.com.
Also scoring sales is the first-ever afterglow at Cobo — Club 25, as they’re calling it. It has already sold 2,100 tickets, not counting the 23 private lounges scattered about the ballroom floor bought by various companies. Tickets, which are still available, cost $150 over and above Charity Preview admission.
Club 25 is sponsored by Rock Venture’s Opportunity Detroit and will be held in the spectacular new Grand Riverview Ballroom, 40,000 square feet of lavishly rebuilt space in Cobo’s original circular arena. In addition to food stations and drinks, classic rockers Fifty Amp Fuse will perform after 10:30 p.m.
Why Club “25?” Because it’s been 25 years since the old Detroit Auto Show became the NAIAS. (Club 25 ticket sales help pay for the event and do not go to charity, so they are not tax-deductible.)
Charity Preview proceeds benefit nine southeast Michigan children’s charities, ranging from the Children’s Center to the March of Dimes Detroit. Since their start in 1976, Charity Previews have raised more than $91 million for kids — more than half of that in the last 10 years alone.
As for hosting their very own afterglow, Rohatynski said Rod Alberts, the auto show’s executive director and head of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, thought it’d be fun to offer an onsite party.
“Now that we have this gorgeous new facility with the atrium and ballroom,” Rohatynski said, “Rod thought we needed to work on keeping people in the house and keeping the party going.”
“It’s also a way to celebrate 25 years of NAIAS. So we’re doing it up right, having fun and showcasing our improved facility.”
Some wonder if Club 25 could siphon off attendance for other afterglows that typically take place all over town, including the large one at Ford Field sponsored by Bill and Lisa Ford.
But Tavi Fulkerson, president of the Fulkerson Group, which handles all sponsorships for the auto show, argues that’s unlikely.
“I think there’s demand for an excellent event onsite,” she said, “as well as others like the Ford Field afterglow for the Children’s Center. You’ve got about 15,000 people coming down here,” Fulkerson added. “That’s a lot of people and a lot of parties.”