Update: Sullivan family concerned over convention center name ch - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Update: Sullivan family concerned over convention center name change

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Update: The Sullivan family is saying 'no' to changing the iconic name of the city of Waterloo's convention center.

The family says the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center has stood as a symbol of this country's sacrifice for freedom since the dedication in 1988.

The five brothers, all Waterloo natives, died while serving on the same ship during WWII.

The city is now considering selling the struggling convention center, and the Omaha-based buyer is looking to change the name to 'The Waterloo Convention Center.' 

During Monday's city council work session, assurances were made that the Sullivan family supported the name change. 

Jim and Kelly Sullivan say that is not true.

"I was not contacted about the name change at all. I read about it in the newspaper," said Jim Sullivan.

Jim is the son of Albert Sullivan, the youngest of the five brothers and the only one to have a child. Kelly Sullivan is Albert's granddaughter.

Kelly says the family was not kept in the loop about the name.

"It was hurtful because I do feel like the Sullivan family works to help support Waterloo and creating tourism and getting people to come and visit. We have a lot of visitors that come through that just want to see the Sullivan sites and I always bring them here to see the Sullivan sites," said Kelly Sullivan.

This coming during the 75th Anniversary of the brothers' deaths.

The family is receiving not just local, but national support against the name change.

  "We didn't get the big Irish-Catholic family we would have had if the boys had survived, but we have a really strong support system; especially in the military," said Kelly.

The Sullivan family is asking the city to support them, the way the family has supported the city for decades.

 "When a building like this falls apart there are so many people on so many levels that are not doing their jobs well. If you do your job well, then things work out. I think that we could all work together and come up for a win-win for everybody," said Kelly.

Since Monday's meeting, Mayor Quentin Hart has set up a meeting with the Sullivan family and the company looking to buy the property.

The Mayor released this statement:

"I did have a chance to speak heart-to-heart with the Sullivans, and I fully accept responsibility for any misunderstandings. I will not share the details of the conversation but I am thankful that I have an open line for communication. The service, sacrifice, and dedication of the Sullivan Brothers and all Veterans in this community need to be recognized and honored. With the most recent Convention Center and Hotel conversation, we have a great opportunity to do something incredible. Progress is great but not at the sacrifice of honoring those that have paved the way for us today. The Sullivan’s will be respected and honored in a special way."

The city will hold a public hearing on the sale of the convention center during the July 17th city council meeting. 

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