Possible name change for Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Cente - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Possible name change for Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center

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Millions of dollars in investment, much-needed updates, and an opportunity to do it without raising taxes -- that is the proposal the Waterloo City Council is currently considering for the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in downtown Waterloo.

The facility is currently city-owned and the council is looking to sell the property to an Omaha-based company.

President and CEO of Leslie Hospitality Consulting, Edwin Leslie, says the building has great potential, but hasn't been run properly.

It is one of the largest event spaces in the area, playing host to a variety of events from state pool tournaments to banquets, but the convention center has a long history of complaints including the state of the building and the quality of service.

Leslie says he can change that for clients.

"She wanted me to insure her, unequivocally with out any issue, that when they were having their food served that the paint wouldn't be chipping and falling off the ceiling onto their plates," Leslie told Waterloo City Council in Monday's work session.

A complete overhaul of the services, Leslie is promising to invest six million in renovations to the 40-year-old building, as well as add dozens of jobs.

"I've talked to group after group, that says, 'We've used the center in the past and it is a great location, works for us from a viability standpoint, but you need to improve the quality of it,'" said Leslie.

Main Street Waterloo and the businesses in the area have been asking for this change, relying heavily on the business the center brings in.

"One good weekend can save a quarter and one good quarter can save a year. If you are saving a year, you are saving a restaurant. It is not just 200 people hanging out and leaving, that is the beauty of having a convention center in a downtown; it is the ability to stretch those dollars even further," said Main Street Waterloo Director Tavis Hall.

Also rolled into the plan is a complete update to the Ramada Hotel and possibly a proposed name change to the convention center.

Leslie would like to change the name from Five Sullivan Brothers to Waterloo Convention Center.

Some long-time residents are unsure about the name change.

"It is really sad to see the name come off the Sullivan Brothers. I know the family agreed with it, but that is an icon from Waterloo; here are five gentlemen who gave their lives for our country," said a concerned resident at the meeting.

The renovation plans will include a large memorial to the brothers within the center.

Through the deal, the city plans to give the company some bond money which has already been allocated this year to convention center updates.

For full details on the project, the city will be holding a public hearing on July 17th.

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