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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cleveland City Council Calls for Name Change to Browns’ Stadium

  • Cleveland's city council urged the Browns to change their stadium name.
  • Naming rights holder FirstEnergy is implicated in a bribery scandal.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland’s city council can’t legally change the name of the stadium where the Browns play, but they made it clear how they feel about it.

The council passed a non-binding resolution 16-1 that the team should remove FirstEnergy from the NFL team’s home field, after the energy company admitted its role in a bribery scandal.

  • In 2019, the Ohio legislature passed a $1 billion bailout for Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants.
  • FirstEnergy was ordered to pay $230 million in July 2021 after an investigation implicated the company in a bribery scheme.
  • FirstEnergy bought the naming rights for the stadium in 2013 for $107 million in a deal that runs through 2030.

The Browns defended FirstEnergy, saying “they have taken meaningful action to address the issues that transpired in 2019-20.”

The issue has not stopped the council from supporting the facility in other ways: This week, it approved $10 million in subsidies to repair pedestrian ramps and other fixes.

QB Pressure

The figure of $230 million may make Browns fans cringe for an additional reason: It’s the total sum of quarterback DeShaun Watson’s fully guaranteed, five-year contract.

Watson is facing at least 24 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct. The Houston Texans, Watson’s former team, have been added as defendants to the lawsuit by attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing a group of women accusing Watson.

“We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act,” wrote Buzbee. “They knew or certainly should have known.”

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