The Cleveland Browns NFL team has announced that its long-standing stadium naming rights deal with FirstEnergy is to end with immediate effect some six years before it was due to expire.
The Browns’ venue has been known as FirstEnergy Stadium since 2013, with the Akron-based electric utility having become the venue’s first naming partner some 14 years after it opened. The deal, which was to run until 2029, was reportedly worth a total of $107m.
The facility will revert to its former name, Cleveland Browns Stadium, it has been confirmed.
While no reason was given for the agreement being terminated, the announcement comes less than a year after Cleveland City Council passed a resolution calling for FirstEnergy to relinquish naming rights in the wake of its role in a bribery scandal. The company agreed to pay a penalty of $230m (£184m/€216m) and admitted to a single charge of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud in connection to the alleged manipulation of the passage of state legislation.
Dave Jenkins, Haslam Sports Group’s chief operating officer, said: “We’ve had a great association with FirstEnergy for more than two decades, and we appreciate this partnership and what it has created for our team and the broader northeast Ohio community.
“We reached this amicable agreement that is consistent with the productive relationship we have always enjoyed, and we wish FirstEnergy success with their future initiatives.”
The Browns confirmed last month that discussions have commenced regarding renovation work at the stadium, following suggestions it could relocate at the end of its lease term in 2028.
Discussing the end of the naming rights agreement, John Somerhalder, FirstEnergy’s interim president and chief executive, said: “Together with the Browns, we have worked to enrich our communities while increasing awareness of FirstEnergy as an energy leader. Since we signed this agreement 10 years ago, our priorities have shifted as the company evolved from a competitive energy supplier to a regulated utility, and as a result, our corporate initiatives must also evolve.
“Like the rest of northern Ohio, we remain passionate Browns fans and will cheer them on in upcoming seasons. We also look forward to maintaining our deep relationships with civic, arts and other organisations to bring good energy to our communities.”