Cobo Center to be renamed with TCF brand once bank merges with Chemical bank

Cobo Center in downtown Detroit will soon be renamed as part of a naming rights deal with Chemical Bank, once the merger with TCF goes through the FEC.

FOX 2 learned from TCF officials that the bank was buying the naming rights to Cobo Center, 18 months after the idea of it being renamed first surfaced.

As part of the deal, the name Cobo will have to be removed the building within the coming weeks. However, because TCF is merging with Chemical Bank, the new name won't be on the building until after the merger is approved by the FEC.

The merger is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The new name will be announced later this year, after Chemical Bank's holding company acquires TCF.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is joining officials from the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA), city officials, and more to make a "significant announcement" regarding Cobo Center.

The announcement is set to start at 11 a.m. and we'll stream it on FOX 2 News Now here.

The Cobo name has long been associated with a racist past and the convention center's $5 million in state subsidies is running out. So it's logical that selling the naming rights could happen sooner rather than later.

Ten years ago, Detroit was close to losing the North American International Auto Show every January because of Cobo's disrepair at that point. Cobo was formerly owned by the City of Detroit, which at the time was dealing with bankruptcy. The convention center was losing $21 million a year, so they created the DRCFA and went to the state for help.

In the first two years they received $11 million, next two years $9 million, two years after that they got $8 million, this year they're getting $6 million and next year it will be $5 million. It will stay at $5 million until 2023.

Cobo is on the clock and made giant strides cutting the operating debt to $280,000, but with the state funding set to expire in six years.

Authority Chairman Larry Alexander says he sees the move as "killing two birds with one stone" -- making a smart financial decision that saves taxpayers' money while removing "negative history and connotation."

Albert Cobo, who served as mayor from 1950 to 1957, sought to keep blacks out of predominantly white neighborhoods. The convention center opened downtown in 1960.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.