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Duggan asks Detroit Three: Commit to 2022 Detroit auto show

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan is reaching out to leaders of the Motor City's three automakers to stress importance of the North American International Auto Show coming back to Detroit in 2022. 

"Ford, GM and FCA have all made an absolutely solid commitment that they will not be supporting anything in Pontiac this year unless there's an unequivocal commitment for the auto show to be back downtown next year," Duggan said during a Tuesday press conference.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan takes a behind-the-scenes tour as construction continues on the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit on January 7, 2019.

The mayor's confirmation of talks with the automakers comes one day after auto show organizers announced plans to replace the auto show slated for June in downtown Detroit with a new event called Motor Bella. It will take place in September at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac.

But auto show leaders haven't yet guaranteed a Detroit auto show will take place in 2022, three years after the last show took place in 2019 — and 30 years after the show was rebranded the NAIAS. Canceling the Detroit auto show again — estimated to generate roughly $400 million in economic activity each year — is a major economic blow to a city already struggling with economic tremors caused by the global pandemic.  

"The NAIAS is currently holding future dates with TCF Center from 2022 through 2026. We remain optimistic and hopeful that we could host an auto show in Detroit in the future," NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts said in a statement to The Detroit News. "That said, the future of NAIAS will depend on the state of our industry, economy and world going forward."

Concern about large gatherings, vaccination rates and what the pandemic will look like in June led NAIAS leaders to instead create Motor Bella, an all-outdoor event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac. But that doesn't mean this event is replacing the auto show, organizers say.

For 30 years, the show occurred in January until leadership decided to move it to June in the summer of  2020. The event was canceled after Detroit's TCF Center was turned into a field hospital for COVID-19 patients out of concerns the region's hospitals would be overwhelmed. 

"We remain in discussions with all of our partners on an ongoing basis and have received a great deal of interest and support for our plans for September 2021," Alberts said.

Duggan said he was OK with the plans to move some festivities to the track in Pontiac: ‘We can all understand that, even though they were talking about this fall. There is no way to book hotel rooms, make the kind of massive investments in displays for this September, when you don’t know what the COVID situation is going to be," Duggan said. 

“The auto dealers were in a position where it was impossible to hold an auto show this year. We got that," the mayor added. “Whatever an auto show looks like in 2022, I’ve got the absolute commitment from the leaders of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler that it will be in the city of Detroit."

Twitter: @bykaleahall