The Cleveland Browns and FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) have announced a long-term partnership in which the team's venue will be called FirstEnergy Stadium. Since it was completed in 1999, the Browns home field has been known as Cleveland Browns Stadium.
FirstEnergy, a diverse energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio, has been a corporate partner of the Browns since 1999. The partnership has included many elements, highlighted by its presence as a gate partner at the stadium from 2002 through 2006 and a current scoreboard sponsor.
FirstEnergy was formed in 1997 when Ohio Edison merged with Centerior Energy Corporation, the parent company of The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison. As a result of two other mergers, FirstEnergy is now one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the country.
As part of the naming rights agreement, FirstEnergy becomes the official energy partner of the Cleveland Browns. In addition, the partnership consists of both interior and exterior stadium signage, use of Browns trademarks, event sponsorships, as well as a full complement of media assets, including TV, radio, print and digital. As a component of this deal, a FirstEnergy Stadium web site will be launched in the near future. As active members of the Northeast Ohio community, both entities will also jointly participate in philanthropic endeavors throughout the region.
This landmark announcement was made at an afternoon press conference in the South Club Lounge at the stadium. Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam and Chief Executive Officer Joe Banner were on hand for the Browns to help announce the partnership. FirstEnergy was represented by its President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Alexander.
"This is a great day for all of us and it builds on the momentum we have experienced as we enter into a new era of Cleveland Browns Football," said Haslam. "The Browns and FirstEnergy have enjoyed a tremendous relationship for more than a decade, and since our arrival back in August, it has been our pleasure getting to know Tony, Chairman of the Board George Smart, President of FirstEnergy Utilities Chuck Jones and many other FirstEnergy employees. As native Ohioans, they understand the value of the Browns brand, and like all of our fans, they have lived and died with this football team. Our core values of being the best at everything we do are clearly aligned, and because of their commitment to the City of Cleveland and to all of Northeast Ohio, we felt this would be the perfect partnership. Plus, it's a great name for the stadium – FirstEnergy."
"By joining two Ohio traditions, this partnership and regional branding opportunity makes good business sense," said FirstEnergy's Alexander. "FirstEnergy and its predecessor utilities have been serving the energy needs of customers throughout northern Ohio for more than a century, while the Browns' rich legacy in the same regional footprint dates back to 1946. It is clear the team is headed in the right direction and we look forward to being part of the new energy in FirstEnergy Stadium."
"Having a stadium naming rights deal in place was extremely important for us as we look toward the future, and it was just as imperative to accomplish this with a strong, regional company such as FirstEnergy," said Banner. "We are excited about what this long-term partnership means, allowing both the Browns and FirstEnergy to derive many benefits from this association. This deal is a great example of why we feel very good about the direction our organization is headed, and we believe it can serve as a catalyst for many other positive developments moving forward."
Terms of the naming-rights agreement were not disclosed. The deal is contingent upon approval from Cleveland City Council. Once approved, the stadium will become the 23rd of 31 NFL venues to have entered into a naming rights deal.
About FirstEnergy Corp.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. Its generation subsidiaries control more than 20,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro, pumped-storage hydro and other renewables. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
About FirstEnergy Stadium
Groundbreaking for the stadium took place on May 15, 1997, on the hallowed ground of the old Municipal Stadium. The first regular season Browns game was played on September 12, 1999, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The stadium, which is built on the shores of Lake Erie, seats up to 73,300. The eastern seating section is the home of the Dawg Pound, a section of more than 10,000 bleacher seats. The stadium features 142 luxury suites and nearly 9,000 club seats. The playing surface is a Kentucky Bluegrass irrigated field, with a sand-soil root zone and an underground heating system that involves nine boilers and 40 miles of underground piping, which prevents the field from freezing. In 2010, a Ring of Honor was unveiled to pay homage to the club's storied past. The names of the 16 former Browns enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are permanently displayed on the facade of the upper deck of the stadium. In 2011, the years of the Browns eight championship seasons were added to the Ring of Honor. In its 14 years of existence, the stadium also has played host to numerous high school and college football games, soccer matches and concerts.