Cobo Center could be getting a new name from the highest bidder

Image 1 of 5

Cobo Center, Cobo Parking - there's even Cobo Joe's.

The name Cobo comes up a lot downtown - but Cobo Center, named after former Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo - could soon be getting a new name, one that could go to the highest bidder.

The Cobo name has long been associated with a racist past and the convention center's $5 million in state subsidies runs out in a few years. So why not sell the naming rights?

We've seen it years before when DTE first bought the naming rights to Pine Knob for $10 million for 10 years. Or when Comerica signed on to the new baseball park for $66 million for 30 years.

Now the name of the convention center could be up for grabs but for whom and for how much?

A spokesperson for Cobo Center said they are still in the "exploratory phase" for the naming rights process so it is "difficult to speculate" on when it could happen or whose name might appear on it. 

One thing we do know - a new name would mean new signs - and lots of them. But what would it mean for an old fan favorite like Cobo Joe's Bar and Grill? After all the Joe is no longer in use and soon to be torn down.

And now - the Cobo name could be a thing of the past. Will the owners there change the name, too?

"We have no intention of changing the name Cobo Joe," said Delroy Thomas, the owner. "Cobo Joe's is sticking around, it is part of the history of Detroit."

After all, they say the place is iconic - as much a part of Detroit as the Red Wings, Lions, Tigers, Pistons and Alexander Zonjic?

Yes, famous people like him stop in there for lunch and no matter what other names change - they don't want to see this one go.

"No, no way, it's an institution," Zonjic, a professional flautist said. "When you think of Detroit, it's Cobo Joe's it's the Anchor Bar, it's all of those. Don't you dare change the name."

The owners say - they won't.

"We've got a name that's been around for 31 years so we're going to hang on to it," said owner Richard Cadreau.