CLEVELAND (WJW) – Will the home of the Cleveland Browns change its name?
Monday night, Cleveland City Council passed a resolution calling on FirstEnergy to relinquish its naming rights to the publicly-owned pro-football stadium.
Lawmakers say because of the company’s admitted role in a bribery scheme, the name should come down.
FirstEnergy Stadium has been the name of the Browns’ home since the company bought the naming rights in 2013 for $107 million.
It will most likely stay that way for now. The 16-1 vote is only symbolic because the city council has no legal authority to force it to change.
“I take offense to the fact that FirstEnergy’s name, a company that admitted to multiple felonies, is on our marquee building down here in downtown Cleveland,” said Ohio state lawmaker Jeff Crossman, who represents the Parma area.
A handful of people spoke out at the meeting. They support a resolution to remove FirstEnergy’s name from Cleveland’s downtown football stadium.
“This is the voice of the council and ultimately the residents of the city of Cleveland, encouraging FirstEnergy to work with the tenants of 100 Alfred Lerner Way to remove that name from the stadium,” said Cleveland Ward 16 Councilman Brian Kazy.
Kazy sponsored the resolution after the company agreed to pay $230 million for its role in a bribery scheme to influence state lawmakers to pass House Bill 6, a billion dollar bail-out of FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants.
Council also accuses the company of trying to destroy the city’s publicly owned Cleveland Public Power.
“That will send a message to FirstEnergy to let them know that we’re not in support of the corruption that they were involved in, the bribery-scheme that they were involved in,” Kazy said.
“FirstEnergy has admitted in court to the misuse of corporate funds to influence lawmakers, as part of a dark money political campaign to undermine Cleveland Public Power. Therefore, we would like to see this relationship ended in a timely and, if possible, voluntary fashion,” said the president of the Citizens Utility Board of Ohio.
After the resolution passed Monday night, FirstEnergy released a statement, reading, in part: “FirstEnergy is extremely proud of our longstanding commitment to community involvement through philanthropic giving, employee volunteerism and sponsoring local events and organizations. It’s disappointing that the resolution overlooks the important community benefits afforded by our partnership with the Cleveland Browns, which represents so much more than just a name on the stadium.”
“I’m totally hopeful that FirstEnergy and the Cleveland Browns will work together for a peaceful resolution to have them remove the name,” said Kazy.
Earlier in the day, the council also passed a resolution that any time they pass legislation that deals with the stadium, they will refer to it as the “Municipal facility at 100 Alfred Lerner Way.”
FirstEnergy Stadium gets its electricity from Cleveland Public Power.