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Cleveland City Council legislation urges FirstEnergy to give up naming rights to Browns stadium

Cleveland Browns and First Energy Stadium. Jan. 29, 2021
Cleveland Browns and First Energy Stadium. Jan. 29, 2021((WOIO - Tim Dubravetz))
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 10:19 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland City Council introduced legislation on May 23 calling on the FirstEnergy Corp. to relinquish its naming rights to the city’s publically owned Browns football stadium.

Council cited the company’s role in a bribery scheme that is currently under federal investigation as the reason why it urges FirstEnergy to remove its name from the stadium.

The naming rights to the stadium were sold to FirstEnergy for a reported $107 million in 2013, according to Cleveland City Council.

“Council believes,” the resolution reads, “that FirstEnergy applied pressure using phony citizen groups and paid out significant dollars to restrict or destroy our publicly owned Cleveland Public Power.”

Cleveland City Council stated the stadium receives its electricity from Cleveland Public Power.

Ward 16 Councilperson Brian Kazy cited the House Bill 6 bribery scheme in the resolution.

The Akron-based utility company was charged in the political corruption scandal for allegedly manipulating the passage of HB 6.

Kazy said FirstEnergy has failed to acknowledge its criminal behavior by continuing to market itself using the public’s taxpayer-funded stadium.

He also released the following statement, which said, in part:

“The resolution I am sponsoring is self-explanatory. First Energy spent nearly $61 million to get Ohio HB 6 passed to secure a $1.3 billion dollar bailout by ratepayers for its nuclear power plants. A federal investigation led to felony charges in connection to the bribery scheme to influence state legislators to pass the legislation.

FirstEnergy Corp. has agreed to pay a $230 million fine for its central role in a bribery scheme. A corruption trial on the issue is scheduled for early next year.

Simply, 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.”

In 2021, two Ohio lawmakers sent a letter asking the city of Cleveland and the Browns’ owners to have FirstEnergy’s name removed from the stadium.

FirstEnergy purchased the naming rights of Cleveland’s football stadium in 2013 as part of a 17-year deal.

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