I don't know who to blame for this. Do we blame Cobo? The Detroit Auto Dealers Association? Kevyn Orr? Mike Duggan? Either way, someone's got to fix the ridiculous parking situation for the Detroit auto show's press preview days.
There are more than 5,200 journalists at NAIAS this year which is 10% more than last year. The show has grown every year — exponentially since the big crash. And yet parking is still stuck in the dark ages.
When I first started going to the auto show as a journalist a few years ago, I remember there were no card readers on the roof of Cobo Center, but card readers for the underground parking. This was late 2000s. There was no excuse for an exhibition center Cobo's size to not have a basic card reader in its largest parking space.
Once, I had to park to the side, run inside four floors down to the ATM (and pay the extra fees) and come back up just to get past the gate. But I'm not just thinking of myself. How about all those out-of-towners who had to have gone through the same thing? Great first impression in Detroit, right?
Relatively speaking, parking on the roof should be an easy task. It's where everyone parks, and it's where organizers advise you to park online. If you don't have a pass, you can pay the $10. It should be that easy. This year, however, is especially insane.
Talking with a few journalists at various parties last night, I found out a few things. One guy says that apparently the night before — the night before! — journalists arrived at Cobo, someone made a decision to not allow people with parking passes to park on the roof and only allow people with some kind of special permit. Passes are sent to journalists weeks before the show.
If you wanted to pay to park on the roof, you couldn't do that either. Usually if I don't have a pass beforehand, I just pay. Unbeknownst to what was going on, when I approached the guard to get on the roof, he wouldn't let me through. I drove past him anyway (like a boss!). I paid my usual $10, but the parking attendant in the booth said I technically wasn't supposed to do that because of the new rule (that even he wasn't clear on). Anyhow, even though I was basically parking illegally, I wasn't towed. So yeah, that's how you sneak onto the roof of Cobo Center.
Another writer I talked to said she also had a pass and was turned away, and ended up paying $45 just to get herself and a co-worker in another car on the roof. Now if that's two cars, and parking is $10, how did it turn out to be $45?
Nobody knows what the hell to do when it comes to parking for a two long-ass grueling days of being trapped in a convention center, and this is a problem. And this problem shouldn't be hard to iron out. Whoever's in charge of this, get it together.
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