With a $1 million donation pledge, the Downtown Denver YMCA was set to be renamed the "Benjamin F. Stapleton Jr. Downtown Denver YMCA."
No, not the Benjamin F. Stapleton who was the longtime mayor of Denver starting in 1923 -- the one who at one point was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Benjamin F. Stapleton Jr. was his son.
"There are five Ben Stapletons, so it is confusing. My grandfather-in-law [Ben Stapleton Jr.] had given so much to the YMCA. He was on the board for a number of years," said Jenna Stapleton, the wife of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and executive director of the Harmes C. Fishback Foundation Trust, the Stapleton family's charitable foundation.
In February 2016, the foundation pledged $1 million through 2020 to renovate the downtown YMCA locker room, upgrade the gymnasium, redesign the reception area, add new program space and improve the wellness activity area.
"Part of the proposal was if you give $1 million, you get naming rights to the building," Stapleton said. "Once it was revealed that the YMCA would be renamed the 'Benjamin F. Stapleton YMCA', we did have some fallout. At the same time, my husband had announced that he was running for governor, and I think it wasn't a coincidence that the Stapleton name was controversial once again."
Now, she says, "my cousin-in-law, who's on the board of the YMCA, ... brought up to me that the YMCA's new CEO, who I have not met yet, approached him. She said that they were getting national pressure from the YMCA about the Stapleton name," said Jenna Stapleton. "It's heartbreaking to me that our family is constantly dragged through the mud."
In a phone interview, that new YMCA of Metropolitan Denver CEO, Sue Glass, who started three months ago, said the organization is reviewing all contract and donor agreements. She denied there is national pressure to not have the Stapleton name attached to the building.
"It is no secret that we've had some concerns from the public and from the community," Glass added. "That's a side note. That's not something that is guiding this decision. This decision is really about us doing due diligence as an organization," said Glass.
And WATCH a Next with Kyle Clark report below. (The YMCA report begins at 0:26.)