The Sullivan Brothers' name will remain part of Waterloo's downtown convention center if the building is sold to a Nebraska developer, as proposed.

On Thursday (July 6, 2017), officials from the city of Waterloo and Omaha-based Leslie Hospitality announced that the square block where the 40-year-old convention center is built will be dedicated as Sullivan Brothers Plaza. Under a compromise, the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center would be renamed The Waterloo Convention Center at Sullivan Brothers Plaza. The developer had initially planned to drop the Sullivans' name from the building, according to terms of the purchase agreement.

'They Did Their Part'
Courtesy: Hultman Archives - Getty Images

“We are very pleased with the naming of Sullivan Brothers Plaza,” said family spokesperson Kelly Sullivan, granddaughter and grandniece of the Five Sullivan Brothers. “Leslie Hospitality and Mayor (Quentin) Hart have done everything possible to accommodate our requests. We are pleased that the Convention Center complex will continue to pay tribute to the Five Sullivan Brothers as well as honor all veterans of our armed forces.”

The agreement was announced after Mayor Hart convened a Wednesday afternoon meeting with Leslie Hospitality President and CEO Edwin Leslie and representatives of the Sullivan family.

“Designating the grounds of the convention center Sullivan Brothers Plaza will ensure that the property will always honor the sacrifice of the Sullivan Brothers and their families,” Hart said in a press release. “The Waterloo Convention Center at Sullivan Brothers Plaza will honor the Sullivans and be a living monument to all the brave men and women who valiantly defend our country.”

The five Sullivan brothers were among nearly 700 sailors who died in 1942 when a Japanese submarine torpedoed the USS Juneau in the South Pacific during World War II. A monument paying tribute to the Sullivans will be constructed on the plaza by Leslie Hospitality.

In addition to the convention center, the developer also plans to purchase the Ramada Hotel across the street. Both buildings will undergo immediate renovations of the exterior and technology once the transaction is complete.

A public hearing on the proposed sale of the convention center is scheduled for July 17.

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