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Reps. Jeff Crossman, Kent Smith urge Cleveland Browns to rename FirstEnergy Stadium amid company's ties to ongoing federal probe into $60M bribery scandal

September 17, 2021
Kent Smith News

Reps. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today sent Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, along with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, a letter detailing their concerns with the continued promotion of FirstEnergy Corp. by the Cleveland Browns and the City of Cleveland.  

“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 Rep. Crossman. “Why are the Browns pretending that FirstEnergy is a good corporate citizen and continuing to promote them?”

In late July, FirstEnergy Corp. admitted criminal wrongdoing as part of the ongoing federal probe of a $60 million public corruption scheme involving former Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Sam Randazzo and potentially others at the Ohio Statehouse.  The letter sent by Reps. Crossman and Smith called the continued use of “FirstEnergy” as the name of the taxpayer funded football stadium a “slap in the face” to the many Browns fans who fought to keep pro-football in Northeast Ohio.

“I first raised the issue of FirstEnergy's name on a taxpayer built stadium in a floor speech on July 23, 2019, almost one full year before Speaker Larry Householder was arrested,” said Rep. Smith. “As a former season ticket holder myself, the Cleveland Browns owe it to their fan base to seek another stadium sponsorship opportunity with a local company that has not pled guilty in federal court to what has been described by the former U.S. Attorney as ‘the largest bribery and money laundering scheme in Ohio history.’”

As stated in the letter, the stadium’s original name was “Cleveland Browns Stadium” during the years the Lerner family owned the team.  After the Haslam’s purchased the franchise, they decided to sell the stadium naming rights to FirstEnergy for a period of 17 years for $107 million starting in 2013.