By D. Channing Muller Posted November 2, 2009, 2:30 PM EST
Yesterday the South Florida International Auto Show wrapped up its 10-day exhibition, which began on October 23, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The 39th annual show's total square footage shrank by about 40,000 square feet—to approximately 350,000 square feet—from last year, and organizers saw an increase of nearly 45 percent in discount ticket sales.
“Historically, about 20 to 25 percent of people [attending the show] use a discount ticket,” said Richard Baker, president of the South Florida Automobile Dealers Association, which organizes the trade show every year. “This year more than 65 percent of people are using our $2-off ticket. They're going out of their way to get it.”
The discount tickets sold for $8, compared to regular admission at $10, on the event's Web site, at South Florida auto dealers, and at McDonald's stores in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Organizers estimated about 200,000 people attended the show during its first five days and projected overall attendance to be around 500,000. (Final attendance estimates have not yet been released).
The show attracted more than 50 car manufacturers, about the same as last year, though Baker noted the exhibitors bought less space than in 2008. The entire show took place in the convention center's main exhibit halls this year, a change from when the smaller side rooms were also occupied with exhibits like the motorcycles showroom, which moved onto the main floor.
The smaller exhibitor footprint translated to less opulent exhibit designs than in year's past. “The manufacturers' have historically built these humongous displays, and that's really where they've cut back,” said Baker. “Because of the economic times, they're getting much smaller.”
In addition to carmakers displaying their 2010 models, the show floor housed three other exhibits: Memory Lane with antique cars from the Antique Automobile Club of America’s South Florida chapter, Million Dollar Alley's luxury brands such as Aston Martin and Ferrari, and the Car Boutique's car and home accessories and merchandise. Jaguar, Saab, BMW, and Volvo also used the show to officially introduce their newest models for 2010 to the North American market.
A portion of the proceeds from the Auto Show will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House of South Florida as part of a more than 20-year partnership with the McDonald's organization. State Farm and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida sponsored the event.