The Cleveland Browns and FirstEnergy Corporation came to terms on a stadium naming rights deal Tuesday, officially changing the title of Cleveland Browns Stadium to FirstEnergy Stadium.
At an afternoon press conference, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and chief executive officer Joe Banner announced the change. The building had been known as Cleveland Browns Stadium since its inception in 1999. FirstEnergy president and chief executive officer Tony Alexander was also on hand to announce the partnership.
"This is a great day for all of us and it builds on the momentum we have experienced as we enter into a new era of Cleveland Browns football," said Haslam. "The Browns and FirstEnergy have enjoyed a tremendous relationship for more than a decade, and since our arrival back in August, it has been our pleasure getting to know Tony, Chairman of the Board George Smart, President of FirstEnergy Utilities Chuck Jones and many other FirstEnergy employees."
Because the city owns the stadium, the deal is contingent upon approval from the Cleveland city council, however the lease between the team and city encourages the naming rights to be sold, which should help push the deal through.
Once approved, the Browns will become the 23rd NFL team to have entered into a stadium rights deal.
"Having a stadium naming rights deal in place was extremely important for us as we look toward the future, and it was just as imperative to accomplish this with a strong, regional company such as FirstEnergy," said Banner.
Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, FirstEnergy is one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the county.
"By joining two Ohio traditions, this partnership and regional branding opportunity makes good business sense," said FirstEnergy's Alexander. "FirstEnergy and its predecessor utilities have been serving the energy needs of customers throughout northern Ohio for more than a century, while the Browns' rich legacy in the same regional footprint dates back to 1946. It is clear the team is headed in the right direction and we look forward to being part of the new energy in FirstEnergy Stadium."
FirstEnergy has been a corporate partner of the team since 1999, when the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion franchise. The original club left Cleveland for Baltimore after the 1995 season.