“Quite simply, I don’t believe the municipal stadium the Cleveland Browns play in should bear the name of this tainted society.”
CLEVELAND – A Cleveland City Council member will introduce a resolution asking FirstEnergy to relinquish naming rights to the stadium in downtown Cleveland.
Councilman Brian Kazy cites the scandal involving FirstEnergy and its involvement in a $60 million bribery scheme created to give a $1 billion bailout to its two nuclear power plants as the reason for the resolution. The resolution is to be presented at Monday’s city council meeting.
“Quite simply, I don’t believe that the municipal stadium in which the Cleveland Browns play should bear the name of this sullied society. The sign, seen when people enter Cleveland, gives the impression that they represent the city. C is wrong,” Kazy wrote in a statement announcing his resolution.
In 2013, the Browns and FirstEnergy entered into a 17-year, $102 million deal for the stadium’s naming rights. From 1999 to 2012, the facility was known as Cleveland Browns Stadium when the Lerner family owned the team.
“The resolution I sponsor is self-explanatory,” adds Kazy. “First Energy spent nearly $61 million pushing Ohio HB 6 to secure a $1.3 billion taxpayer bailout for its nuclear plants. A federal investigation led to felony charges in connection with the bribery scheme to influence state legislators to pass the legislation.”
In a 2021 settlement with the Justice Department, FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million fine after admitting it paid $60 million into a nonprofit secretly controlled by the former US President. Ohio House, Larry Householder, to pass Bill 6. HB6 bailed out Perry and Davis Besse’s nuclear. power plants and was worth about $1.3 billion to FirstEnergy. A head of household, four associates and a black money group have been charged with racketeering. The owner has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in federal court.
FirstEnergy also said it paid a $4.3 million bribe to Sam Randazzo, who served as president of PUCO in Ohio. He resigned in November 2020, shortly after FBI agents raided his building and left with boxes of equipment. Randazzo has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.
“This Board finds that First Energy exerted political pressure using bogus citizens’ groups and paid significant dollars to restrict or destroy Cleveland Public Power and to influence or control this Board,” the resolution notes. “The fact that First Energy continues to market itself using the taxpayer-funded public stadium signifies its failure to fully acknowledge its criminal behavior and unwittingly implies community support for a criminal enterprise.”
3News has contacted FirstEnergy for a reaction to the resolution. They provided the following statement: “FirstEnergy has a long-standing commitment to supporting communities by sponsoring civic, sports and arts organizations. We have taken swift action to address events that have occurred in recent years and to ensure a culture of ethical, integrity and accountability within the company. We look forward to continuing to be a valued partner to all the communities in which we live and work.”
Last fall, two local members of the Ohio House of Representatives urged Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to change the stadium’s name. Representatives Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) sent the Haslams and Jackson a letter detailing their concerns about the continued promotion of FirstEnergy Corp. by the Cleveland Browns and the City of Cleveland.
RELATED: Ohio House Members Demand Cleveland Browns Rename FirstEnergy Stadium Amid $60M Bribery Scandal
“If anyone associated with the Cleveland Browns went out and robbed a bank, they’d be cut off or fired immediately. FirstEnergy basically went out and stole millions of dollars from the people of Ohio,” Rep. Crossman said. do the Browns claim that FirstEnergy is a good corporate citizen and continue to promote them?”