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Detroit fires civic center director

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Detroit fires civic center director

City: Time to take new direction with Cobo

April 24, 2004

BY BILL LAITNER AND BEN SCHMITT

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

Detroit's civic center director was fired this week in the midst of debate about whether Cobo Center should expand or be rebuilt in another part of the city.

Lou Pavledes was "unappointed" on Tuesday, Dave Manney, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, said Friday.

"We appreciate Lou's service, but it's time to take the department in a new direction, especially the management of Cobo Hall," Manney said. "This had nothing to do with the possible expansion."

Pavledes, who was the civic center director for nine years, could not be reached for comment Friday. The Civic Center Department oversees Cobo Hall, Cobo Arena and Hart Plaza.

Political leaders who gathered in Detroit on Friday for annual luncheon speeches on metro Detroit's future spoke about the need for regional cooperation. But some said later that such cooperation is lacking for the redevelopment of Cobo Center.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other Detroit boosters have said Cobo Center is outmoded and too small to attract major conventions. They favor building a convention hall on a new site, for about $1 billion.

But Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, in interviews before and after Friday's luncheon, said the region probably can't afford building or maintaining a new Cobo Center on a new site.

"The consensus among people I talk to seems to be coalescing around an expansion on the existing site rather than a completely new building," he said.

Ficano said his top priority is "that everyone has to be in on the process." In January, he complained that he was not being fully informed by Kilpatrick and others pushing for a new convention center.

Manney said the mayor has set up a regional Tourism Action Group, known as TAG, to address the possible Cobo redevelopment. The group, which includes county representatives, is working with a consulting firm to study the issue.

"We appreciate the executive's thoughts and input," Manney said. "The fact is, this group has been . . . studying the issues, and we expect their findings next month."

Deputy Oakland County Executive Doug Williams said Cobo Center discussions are frozen among Oakland County leaders because "whatever discussions are going on, Oakland County has not been involved."

Contact BILL LAITNER at 248-351-3297.

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