CLEVELAND (WJW)– Cleveland City Councilman Brian Kazy introduced a resolution calling on FirstEnergy to give up its naming rights to the Browns’ stadium.
The facility was called Cleveland Browns Stadium when it opened in 1999 before the rights were sold to FirstEnergy in 2013 for a reported $103 million.
Since then, FirstEnergy, which is one of the largest public utility holding companies in the U.S., was accused in a $60 million bribery scheme to pass House Bill 6. The legislation was a $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants. The company agreed to a $230 million fine in a deferred prosecution settlement.
“That First Energy continues to market itself using the public’s taxpayer-funded stadium signifies its failure to fully acknowledge its criminal behavior and unintentionally implies community support for a criminal enterprise,” the resolution said.
“I don’t believe that the municipally-owned stadium that the Cleveland Browns play in should bear the name of this tainted company. The sign, seen as people enter Cleveland, gives the impression that they represent the city. This is false,” Kazy said in a statement on Friday.
When asked for comment, FirstEnergy released the following:
“FirstEnergy has a longstanding commitment to supporting communities through sponsorship of civic, athletic and arts organizations. We have taken swift action to address events that have occurred in recent years and to ensure a culture of strong ethics, integrity and accountability at the company. We look forward to continuing as a valued partner with all the communities in which we live and work.”
In September 2021, Ohio State Reps. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) encouraged the Browns to consider dropping the FirstEnergy name.