The downtown convention center that sits along the Detroit River has been named after a former racist mayor of the city for the last 60 years.
Next week, it will have a new name. Now that the merger between TCF Bank and Chemical Bank became is official as of August 1, the downtown Detroit venue will now be called TCF Center. The bank bought the 22-year naming rights to Cobo Center for $33 million.
The new name will be unveiled at press conference at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27.
Following the press conference, the bank is hosting a block party from 11:30-6 p.m. outside the convention center’s entrance. The day-long celebration will feature free food catered by Slow’s BBQ, Centerplate, and frozen treats provided by Detroit Water Ice Factory.
There will also be interactive games and several musical performances, including The Tempations. DDOT city busses downtown for the event will be free.
Calls to remove Albert Cobo’s name from the convention center increased as cities across the country began debating the fate of controversial statues in public places. Cobo, who served as mayor from 1950 to 1957, was known for his racist policies, and ran on a platform of segregation, aiming to keep African-Americans from living in predominantly white neighborhoods.
The Republican businessman was heavily criticized for spearheading urban renewal projects that razed black neighborhoods, most notably Black Bottom, which was replaced with the I-375/I-75 freeways. He was condemned throughout his career by civil rights groups that accused him of moving too slowly in response to harassment and police brutality against the city’s black residents and for continuing the city’s longstanding housing segregation policy. Cobo was Detroit’s mayor until he unexpectedly died of a heart attack on September 12, 1957, while completing his final two-year term. He was 63.
Opened in 1960, Cobo is the 17th largest convention center in the United States, and is the home of the North American International Auto Show, among many other notable national and international conventions and events.