Pending city approval, Northeast Ohio football fans will no longer be marching into Cleveland Browns Stadium to cheer on their team. The Browns announced Tuesday that they have sold naming rights for the facility to Akron-based First Energy Corporation. ideastream's David C. Barnett has details on the newly christened ball field.
An afternoon news conference kicked off with a short film brimming with nostalgia for the long history of the Cleveland Brown's franchise. Then, First Energy CEO Tony Alexander announced the new name.
ALEXANDER: This outstanding facility will be known as the First Energy Stadium - Home of the Cleveland Browns
To be technical, the phrase "Home of the Cleveland Browns", doesn't appear in any of the promotional material handed out at the event. The name change follows a familiar pattern across the country. Many other professional sports teams have sold stadium naming rights to local corporate sponsors. The Cincinnati Reds play at a field named after Great American Insurance Group, and Progressive Insurance paid for its name to be put on the Cleveland Indians ballpark.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says First Energy put in their bid to name the stadium late last summer and a deal was worked out by year's end. But, in an informal talk with reporters after the naming announcement, Haslam declined to reveal any financial details of the deal. He said only that it was a "long-term" agreement.
HASLAM: You know, that was First Energy's request and we're certainly going to honor what they wanted. They've been great partners and great people to work with.
Other teams have been less reticent about detailing naming rights agreements. The Detroit Lions sold theirs to Ford Motor Company for 40 million dollars for 20 years, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' stadium became Heinz Field for 20 years, at a cost of 57 million.
When asked if First Energy customers might react negatively to the company investing a large sum of money into stadium naming rights, First Energy's Alexander said he thought putting the company's name into a national spotlight was a good move.
But, the deal isn't quite done yet --- the new name has to win the approval of Cleveland City Council.