Auto show charity ball will have two options: formal or 'summer chic'

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

The North American International Auto Show's annual Charity Preview event will have a cheaper, more casual option when the show moves to June next year.

Auto show officials said the Charity Preview — which raised $4 million last year — will expand to Detroit's Hart Plaza and have two ticket options and dress codes: A traditional black-tie event inside the convention center and a less-expensive outdoor-access ticket that has a "summer-chic" dress code.

More: Auto show's move to June leaves a lull in downtown Detroit

"Charity Preview will be a party inside and outside that welcomes both an updated creative black-tie audience as well as late-night summer-chic attired guests," said 2020 NAIAS Chairman Doug North. "Warm temperatures and late sunsets will make for a spectacular evening in terms of what attendees are going to see and experience at this special night of giving."

The June 12 event kicks off public days at the annual Detroit auto show. Traditionally held in January, the exposition is moving to the summer months starting in 2020 as part of an effort to revitalize the struggling event as automakers around the globe opt out of expensive auto shows. Organizers have been tight-lipped about plans for the June show, but it's expected to add outdoor events and displays to the sprawling floor plan within TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center.

The Charity Preview at the North American International Auto Show has traditionally been a formal event. With the auto show's move to June next year, a less-expensive outdoor "summer chic" event will be offered as an alternative.

The 2020 Charity Preview all-access tickets will go for $400 each or $750 per pair. Those tickets require "creative black-tie" attire, and get guests access to the full auto show campus, which spans from inside the TCF Center and up the Detroit River to Hart Plaza.

Meantime, outdoor access tickets carry the summer-chic dress code and admit guests to an outdoor event space that will host musical acts, food trucks, beer and wine. Those tickets will cost $200, with no discount for pairs.

"Inside, expect to see splashes of color and fun accents added to black-tie attire," North said. "Outdoors, look for semi-formal with a summertime flair."

The average temperature for June 12 is 69 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The auto show will be open to the public June 13 through June 20.

Meantime, event planners at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi are making plans to fill the void left in January with a new auto show of their own. 

The Southeast Michigan Auto Show, first announced over the summer, will run Jan. 3-5. A mix of dealerships and automakers representing more than 30 brands will take over 200,000 square feet of the Novi convention center. Show organizers have said the regional auto show aims to fill a winter gap in the region's economy.

Detroit auto show makers say they have no involvement with the Novi show, and say they're focused on "making the 2020 NAIAS the biggest and best event of its kind."

Organizers for the Novi show intend for it to be consumer-focused. Admission to the new winter show will cost $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 for children ages 6 to 11, with those younger than 5 admitted free. More information on the inaugural show can be found at

More details about the summer show and Charity Preview will be released early next year at

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau