Mar 14, 2016


Detroit – March 14, 2016 –Wes Westley, president and CEO of SMG, announced today that Claude Molinari will be the general manager of Cobo Center, effective immediately.  Since SMG assumed operations management of Cobo Center in 2010, Molinari has been the assistant general manager of Cobo under Thom Connors. Mr. Connors will continue his corporate role with SMG, including oversight of the Cobo Center account.

“This is a natural transition,” said Westley.  “Both Thom and Claude will continue to bring their leadership strengths and industry vision to Cobo Center.”

Molinari has been with SMG for 18 years and during his tenure in Detroit, he was promoted to regional director of operations for SMG Mideast, where he oversaw the operations departments of 15 regional facilities. Prior to his Cobo assignment, he was assistant general manager of Pittsburgh’s David Lawrence Convention Center, and the general manager of SMGX Exposition Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of SMG. In that capacity he gained experience working at some of the nation’s largest convention centers, including the Las Vegas Convention Center and Javits Center in New York.

“I am really looking forward to the challenge of the new role as general manager of the iconic Cobo Center and will do my best to succeed an industry veteran like Thom Connors,” said Molinari.  “I am excited to work with the Cobo team to bring customer service, bookings and maintenance, to even higher levels in the future.”

Additionally, Cedric Turnbore has been promoted to director of operations for Cobo Center, and his responsibilities will expand to include the oversight of production, sustainability, and janitorial services.

Turnbore came to Cobo with more than 20 years of experience with top brand properties including the Westin Book Cadillac and Marriott Hotels.  Working for Cobo Center for over six years, he has moved up the ranks from production services manager to senior operations manager prior to this promotion.

Larry Alexander, chairman of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) and president of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, added, “Having true hospitality veterans like Thom, Claude and Cedric on the team with their unique knowledge and expertise has been a tremendous asset as we worked through the transformation of Cobo Center.  And just as their work has already elevated the operations and customer service in the facility, their leadership going forward will ensure that Cobo Center continues to earn its reputation as an exceptional event and conference venue.”

During the recent $279 million renovation at Cobo Center, initiated and completed on time and on budget by the DRCFA in just over five years, Cobo doubled the event days each year, showing a steady up-tick in bookings year over year. Cobo Center also received 11 awards for excellence, including the Green Meetings Industry Council’s APEX/ASTM standard certification, Detroit EcoWorks Sustainable Communities Champion award, Keep Michigan Beautiful President’s Plaque. The number of conventions tripled during that time along with the increase in operating revenue.  Mandated by the state of Michigan to eliminate its state convention center operating subsidy by 2023, Cobo Center has already reduced the subsidy from 2009 of $20 million to less than $8 million in 2015.


About Cobo Center

With 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, Cobo Center boasts one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America and is the 17th largest convention center in the country.  Visit online at

View the Cobo Green Initiatives at:          

About SMG

Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 233 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering companies, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide. For more information visit

 About the DRCFA

On 9/15/09, operational control of Cobo Center transferred to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, under a collaborative agreement by the Michigan State Legislature, the City of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Each of these entities has an appointed member on the DRCFA Board. Larry Alexander is Chairman the Board as the member appointed by the Governor of the State of Michigan. For more information visit: