CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council took the first steps requesting FirstEnergy to remove its name from Cleveland’s football stadium.
Councilman Brian Kazy was not at the council meeting where the resolution was first introduced, but he has support.
“It’s a city-owned building, and to have a name on it of a company that’s been involved in public corruption to me is insulting," said Councilman Polensek from Ward 8. "It’s beyond the Cleveland Browns, it’s about what’s right and just."
The resolution came after FirstEnergy was allegedly involved in a bribery scheme to influence state legislators to pass House Bill 6, which led to several key state figures facing felony charges, including former Speaker of the House, Larry Householder.
Cleveland Browns stadium became FirstEnergy stadium in 2013 as part of a 17-year, over $100-million deal.
No one at the meeting Monday spoke up against the resolution. Council President Blaine Griffin said he expects council members to back it.
“We want to make sure we separate the two," he said. "We love our Browns. We love our team. The organization and the Haslam family does great, but this organization that is on the stadium that has the naming rights, allegedly undermined our utility, and there has been several corruption cases, and we don’t think that they should represent our pride and joy of this city which is that stadium."
According to a statement released by the Cleveland Browns, the Browns recognize FirstEnergy as a regional employer and remain committed to the partnership between the two.
“FirstEnergy has been a dedicated partner to the Cleveland Browns, not only on naming rights of the stadium but also on our efforts to improve the lives of many members of the Northeast Ohio community through our youth football and education initiatives," the statement said. "They have taken meaningful action to address the issues that transpired in 2019-2020 and are committed to upholding a culture of integrity and accountability by installing the appropriate policies and procedures going forward."
First Energy has agreed to pay a $230 million fine for its central role in a bribery scheme. A corruption trial on the issue is set for early next year, Kazy said.
“I don’t believe that the municipally owned stadium that the Cleveland Browns play in should bear the name of this tainted company," Kazy said in a statement through City Council.