• A New Identity for Detroit's Cobo Center

     
    FROM THE Summer 2019 ISSUE
     

    Chemical Bank buys rights to downtown Detroit's Cobo Center nameplate.

The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) calls it an unprecedented naming rights contract for a convention center in America.

It’s an exclusive $1.5 million-per-year deal to rename Cobo Center announced with Chemical Bank, which will become TCF Bank after the merger of the two banks is completed. The naming rights is anticipated to generate $33 million for the facility over the next 22 years.

A $5 million annual state subsidy for the 2.4-million-square-footprint, the 17th largest in the United States, will end by 2024. The new naming rights deal is expected to help Cobo Center become financially solvent, but some say it may not keep the 59-year-old complex completely in the black long-term.

“This unprecedented naming rights agreement is a great win for all parties. Chemical Bank makes a strong statement of commitment to the region and secured naming rights to a convention center that is growing in notoriety every day,” says Claude Molinari, general manager of Cobo Center.

The announcement “gives us all an important message: that public-private partnerships work, and that we continue to dedicate ourselves to serving the customers of this great center and to the rebuilding of a truly great American city,” says Larry Alexander, chairman of the DRCFA and president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. “There could not be a better partner than Chemical Bank.”

The bank, the largest headquartered in Michigan, will move into a new 20-story building in downtown Detroit, pending regulatory approval of the Chemical Financial Corp. and TCF Bank merger and construction completion.

“The taxpayers of Michigan receive significant benefit in sponsorship revenue to offset the cost of operating this amazing convention center and a great partner in a trusted Michigan-based banking institution,” says Molinari. “It speaks so very well of the rebirth of this facility, this city and this region that the most valuable naming rights deal for a convention center ever was executed in Detroit.”

In 2009, operational control of Cobo Center transferred from the city of Detroit to the DRCFA under a collaborative agreement by the Michigan State Legislature, Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Each of the entities is represented by an appointed member on the DRCFA board. Larry Alexander was appointed by the governor and serves as chairman of the board.

Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. 

From cities teeming with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. 

Peacock Road Family Farm 

Laingsburg

 

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?

 

It began as the first Cadillac dealership outside of Detroit, then became a roller rink in the 1950s. Now, the High Five GR is reopened as a premier event space in downtown Grand Rapids. The original roller rink hardwood floors remain, as do the vaulted ceilings and oversized arched windows that showcase the city lights. What’s new is a state-of-the-art a/v system and an event team that can create custom floorplans and organize set up/teardown and load in/out logistics.