Lawmakers urge Browns to change FirstEnergy Stadium’s name amid federal probe into bribery scheme


**Watch a past report, above, on FirstEnergy settling in bribery case**

CLEVELAND (WJW) – Ohio representatives Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) are urging the Cleveland Browns to change the name of FirstEnergy Stadium, citing the company’s involvement in a $60 million bribery scheme.

FirstEnergy has been accused by authorities of secretly funding the bribery scheme to help win legislative passage of a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear power plants operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary when the bill was passed in July 2019.

The Akron-based company recently admitted to criminal conduct and agreed to a deferred prosecution settlement that called for the company to fully cooperate and pay a $230 million fine.

Now, lawmakers sent a letter to the Browns urging them to stop associating with the company and remove the FirstEnergy name and logo from their stadium.

“If someone associated with the Cleveland Browns went out and robbed a bank, they would be cut or fired immediately. FirstEnergy essentially went out and robbed Ohioans of millions of dollars,” said Crossman. “Why are the Browns pretending that FirstEnergy is a good corporate citizen and continuing to promote them?”

In the letter, they said this wouldn’t be something new for professional sports.

“On February 27, 2002, the Houston Astros stripped the ‘Enron’ name and logo from its stadium to disassociate itself with another disgraced energy company,” the letter said.

FirstEnergy Stadium was originally called the “Cleveland Browns Stadium” when the Lerner family owned the team. When the Haslam family bought the franchise, they sold the stadium naming rights to FirstEnergy for a period of 17 years for $107 million starting in 2013.

FOX 8 reached out to the Browns for comment but have not heard back yet.

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