Detroit’s Convention Center Renamed Huntington Place; Commits to City’s Continued Growth
ASM Global announced a new name for the 723,000-square-foot convention center that it has managed in downtown Detroit since 2010. Formerly named Cobo Center, then TCF Center after TCF Bank purchased the naming rights for the facility in 2019, the venue is now known as Huntington Place. The new name comes after the recent merger between TCF Financial Corp. and Huntington Bank.
According to Karen Totaro, general manager of Huntington Place/ASM Global, Huntington is a well-respected brand, and the timing of the new moniker could not be any better.
“The renaming comes at a time when Detroit is on this threshold of evolving and growing into what it was always intended to be—a major player on the world stage,” she said. “We have this new energy with a new name at the coming of a new year with a new sales focus on international markets bringing conventions and meetings to Detroit.”
A City Reborn
As Detroit continues to revitalize and evolve, Huntington Place sits in a sweet spot in the city’s downtown, according to Totaro.
“We overlook the Detroit River and the recently named No.1 Riverwalk in the U.S. [according to readers of USA Today],” she said. “The city also just completed a $3 million renovation of Hart Plaza, which is a beautiful, expansive park-like setting that sits adjacent to Huntington Place.”
Totaro also pointed out that Huntington Place is within walking distance of Woodward Avenue, the core of Detroit’s downtown corridor, which features an abundance of shops and restaurants and leads to all the major stadiums, theaters and the newly built District Detroit with Little Caesars Arena.
Meanwhile, the convention center, which underwent a $279 million transformation in 2015, is also planning more upgrades.
“Behind the scenes, we have been working for an eventual west side expansion of the venue to include a 9,000-seat general session space that can convert to a second ballroom, additional parking and a potential headquarter hotel,” Totaro said. “In the last few months, the conversations have escalated to meetings and discussions on funding and timelines. We are in a good place planning-wise and continue to move toward making this a reality.”
Focused on Community and Attendees
Totaro said the center’s partnership with Huntington Bank brings a wealth of opportunities to the Detroit community and its visiting attendees.
“As we continue to elevate this Detroit convention center as an industry gold standard, the creative, hardworking team at Huntington Place continues to make diversity a strength as it focuses entirely on the success of every event,” she said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue became a civic center for the Detroit region, serving as a field hospital, a day center for homeless services, a food distribution center for Food Rescue U.S. and the city’s largest vaccination site. The venue reopened with a strong event schedule, discovering that show managers want to partner with an organization that values the community they serve.
“We are proud that following the TCF-Huntington merger, the name of our new combined bank now graces the walls of this center that means so much to the people of Detroit and all of southeast Michigan,” said Gary Torgow, chairman of Huntington Bank. “From high school graduations to the North American International Auto Show, from speeches by sitting presidents to the annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, this venerable facility is part of the fabric of our community and Huntington is fortunate to now be a part of it.”
The convention center has hosted some of the most important meetings and conventions in the country, ranking it among the top 20 in the nation. In 2022, the venue looks forward to hosting several big trade shows, such as Connect Marketplace and the Silicone Expo, the world's first free-to-attend commercial trade show and conference for the silicone industry.
“Our naming rights agreement, which was a priority for the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA), began with TCF Bank and continues with Huntington Bank in strengthening the center’s financial future,” said Lisa Canada, chair of the DRCFA. “We are dedicated not only to being a contributor to our region’s economic vitality, but also to creating jobs and enhancing the attraction of our destination to visitors. Both of our organizations have a deep commitment to the communities we serve.”
Just one week after the merger, Huntington unveiled a $40 billion Strategic Community Plan to improve financial opportunities for the customers, businesses and communities it serves. The plan focuses on affordable housing, small business and increased capital to historically disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities.
The recent merger that created Huntington Bank, a top 10 regional bank, strengthens Huntington Place’s position to offer outstanding opportunities for clients, including access to thought leaders in Fortune 100 companies for keynotes and education segments. The center also offers access to Michigan nonprofits to bring CSR initiatives to life during events and community service resources such as fitness mini-events and job fairs.
With strong business on the books for 2022 and new initiatives in national and international markets, Huntington Place projects continued future growth for world-class meetings, conventions and event business.
Since it started managing the center in 2010, ASM Global has established the venue as a top convention center both nationally and internationally. The ASM team rebuilt the business model, resulting in a $20 million reduction of operating deficit, and quadrupled the number of major events held annually in the center from 2010 to 2019. The ASM team completed a transformation of the customer experience to one that is focused on creating lasting memories for every visitor to Detroit.
Prior to 2020, Huntington Place attracted nearly 1.5 million visitors annually, and as the industry continues returning to face-to-face meetings, the center is optimistic about continued progress, according to Totaro.
“When we first opened our doors back to full business in July 2021, we started as many centers did with sporting events and small consumer shows,” she said. “The positive sign we see now is the increase in conventions and corporate business returning, which speaks well for the future.”
Meanwhile, the variety of events seeking out Huntington Place and the increased percentage of attendees and exhibitors at events are great indicators of the health of the industry, she added.
“In July, we dreamed of a 50 percent number for attendees and exhibitors for shows compared to 2019, and now we are seeing more than 75 percent returning numbers,” she said. “We are heading in the right direction.”
Totaro added, “Our Detroit spirit has been summed up in two words moving forward: Be bold! We are not going to sit on the sidelines and wait for something good to happen. We are going to make it happen. That is Detroit.”