Chemical Bank buys naming rights to Cobo Center in Detroit

Company officials looking to change name to TCF after merger

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Cobo was one of the few venues left in Detroit that was identifiable with just one word, but by the time the next Detroit auto show arrives, it will have a new name.

The Cobo Center is synonymous with auto shows and other major events, but on Wednesday, its naming rights were purchased by Chemical Bank.

The Cobo Center was opened in August 1960 and named it after Mayor Alfred Cobo, who had died just a few years earlier.

Now, in 2019, the Cobo name will be removed and replaced.

Chemical Bank made the deal, but it's in the process of a merger, so the Chemical Bank name will not appear on the building. Instead, officials are looking to change the company name to TCF.

For many people, Albert Cobo's name is linked with racist Detroit. Mayor Mike Duggan long pushed for the removal of his name because of a dark history of mangled Detroit urban renewal.

"It was an era that displaced African-American families in a way that was discriminatory and callous, and the tensions from those eras still reverberate in the city of Detroit today," Duggan said.

Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, called Wednesday historic.

"It's not a renaming, it's a reclaiming," Anthony said. "You're really reclaiming a sense of community, of bringing people together."

Chemical Bank will spend $33 million to own the naming rights for the next 22 years. It will go along with the new office tower across from Comerica Park being built as the company headquarters.

"We will continue to make this center a vibrant destination, not only for the region, but the USA and the world," Chemical Bank Chairman Gary Torgow said.

The Alfred Cobo statue at the Cobo Center has been moved to the bowels of the building and his name will soon disappear, too, officials said.

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