The Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi is currently undergoing some serious changes.
The Oakland County convention center and exposition hall has been located in its current location at 46100 Grand River Avenue since 2005, but its history goes all the way back to 1991 at the original Novi Expo Center a mile down the road. In 2013, the Showplace underwent a major expansion to introduce more meeting room and ballroom space as well as the Hyatt Place Hotel. That expansion looks like a mere paint job compared to what is currently underway.
In total, they’re adding almost 200,000 square feet of additional space, including an approximately 90,000-square-foot events center and a 23,000-square-foot second story ballroom overlooking the events center.
Blair Bowman, owner of the Suburban Collection Showplace, calls all the added space “extremely flexible,” meaning it can easily be adapted for a variety of different events. The new banquet and meeting rooms have moveable walls so they can be split up into larger and smaller rooms as needed. In the events center, the ceiling soars 43 feet high and 70,000 square feet of the space has no columns, which means the floor plan can be adjusted to accommodate any kind of event without the limitations or restrictions of stationary columns (especially because those columns are usually the primary source of power). This events center will also have its own catering facilities.
“This will allow many existing events to expand and also attract new major conference-style events to the region,” Bowman says. “This gives us the versatility to host events like concerts, graduations, sporting events, large gatherings, and other entertainment functions.” If an event requires risers or stadium-style seating, the Showplace will now be able to accommodate that. In terms of the breadth and scope of events, they will be able to host a more diverse range of events than ever before and further situate the Suburban Collection Showplace as the premiere events destination in Oakland County.
“We’re in a unique situation: we are the largest non-casino-based, privately owned exhibition center space in the country,” says Bowman. And now that the Pistons have moved downtown, theirs is the busiest and largest public facility in Oakland County. And while event spaces such as Cobo Center downtown are certainly wonderful, there is a want and need for a comparable multi-purpose events facility to serve Oakland County residents right in their backyards. And now they have it.
The first phase of the expansion opened with the Michigan State Fair, which Bowman says he is thrilled to be able to host and also grow.
“We revived the State Fair in 2012 and that is one of the coolest and best things we do,” he says. “Reviving that great tradition is one of the things I’m most proud of.”
While the “new” State Fair is certainly different from the one long-held on the State Fairgrounds in Detroit, it also offers modern amenities and comforts (not to mention shelter from the weather) that weren’t possible before.
“It’s a very different environment than other state fairs and the old state fairs,” says Bowman. “This one has a modern twist. There are all kinds of different activations. The animals are all inside. There are amusement rides inside the building as well as entertainment stages. All the animals and people can enjoy the weekend regardless of the weather, even with the heat or rain.”
The Showplace has expanded the fairgrounds 30 acres over the last two years and is now home to the largest midway in Michigan. The expansion also added more parking for the facility, which should be welcome news to fairgoers.
Immediately after the State Fair, the Showplace set up for the Battery Show, the largest battery-focused trade event in North America with exhibitors and attendees from all over the world. This event, Bowman says, was one of the driving forces of the expansion because it is growing so dramatically. In November the Showplace will also host the annual American Cancer Society Cattle Baron’s Ball for the first time. Bowman is also looking forward to be able to grow and expand other long-term consumer events like the Camper and RV Shows, the Boat Show, and the Home and Garden Show.
Visitors got their first glimpse of the new expansion space with the State Fair, and remaining phases will open in the coming weeks and months so that a year from now, all of the new space will be fully open and operating – just in time for the next State Fair!
And Bowman couldn’t be happier with where they’re at, in both the metaphorical and physical sense.
“There are many places in the country to choose to live, work, and recreate, but Oakland County is among the best and we’re very fortunate to be here.”
All photos courtesy of Suburban Collection Showplace showing the new exterior and interior as set up for the Michigan State Fair.