TCF Center Reopens for Events With Volleyball Tournament
The convention center, formerly known as Cobo Center, hosted 1,000 young athletes and socially distanced spectators over President's Day weekend. The tournament was the first event inside TCF Center since March 2020, when COVID-19 brought much of the travel and hospitality industry to a halt.
Michigan Elite Volleyball Academy, which organized the President's Day Challenge, is planning for a return to TCF Center in April. “It was great to see people back in TCF Center,” said Steve Sack, owner of Michigan Elite Volleyball Academy.
The feeling is certainly mutual for the facility's staff and entire Detroit hospitality community. Most importantly, the tournament provided a blueprint for hosting future events.
“We learned that each event that takes place in our building during this year will require a custom health and safety plan to be developed — taking into account the special needs of each group,” said Greg DeSandy, the center’s interim general manager and director of sales and event services.
Michigan health restrictions allow for indoor athletic competitions but forbid meetings, conventions and trade shows. TCF Center still has some non-sports events on the books for 2021, including the Arts Midwest Conference in September and Women of STEM Conference in October. Mary Klida, TCF Center’s senior marketing and communications manager, indicated other events remain in negotiations.
To make the volleyball event go forward, TCF Center staff coordinated with the City of Detroit Department of Health and Safety to instill safety guidelines. The center is scheduled to achieve GBAC Star accreditation this week and went through the AMS Global VenueShield program. Sixteen courts were used and spectators were spread out across the building.
“Our staff did whatever was needed to create a safe environment, including having our staff join in setting up the court, to make sure everything in the center was ready to accept its first visitors,” said Patrick Bero, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority’s CEO and CFO.
Claude Molinari, new CEO of the Detroit Metro CVB, who formerly was GM at TCF Center, said the sports action will serve as a call to event planners that the region is ready for a return to business.
“We are delighted about what this successful event says in regard to our readiness as a destination to host other events safely and effectively at TCF Center and in the Detroit area,” he said.