Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. will soon have its name on Cleveland Browns Stadium, multiple sources said Monday afternoon.
FirstEnergy has purchased the naming rights for the stadium, and a news conference will be held at 2 p.m. today at the stadium, sources familiar with the deal said. The new name is expected to be unveiled at that time.
This would be the first time a corporate name would be on Browns Stadium.
In 1999, when the Browns returned to Cleveland as an expansion team bought by businessman Al Lerner, he said he did not believe the stadium should be named.
The Browns had no NFL team in 1996, ’97 and ’98 after the original Browns were moved to Baltimore by the late former owner Art Modell.
Last August, Jimmy Haslam said he was open to selling the naming rights of Browns Stadium. Haslam was introduced at that time as the team’s incoming owner.
The chief executive of Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J Corp. bought the team from Randy Lerner, Al Lerner’s son.
NFL team owners officially approved Haslam’s purchase for about $1 billion in October.
Officials for both the Browns and FirstEnergy would not directly address speculation Monday about stadium naming rights.
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider released this statement: “FirstEnergy has been a proud supporter of civic, arts and professional sports organizations throughout the company’s service area, which extends across Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. In Ohio, we’ve long championed Cleveland teams with prominent sponsorships at Browns Stadium, Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.
“While we remain committed to partnering with local community leaders and businesses to make our communities attractive places to live and work, we have no new announcements regarding any major sponsorships at this time.”
FirstEnergy has a sports sponsorship presence in other areas of Northeast Ohio, including naming rights to the University of Akron’s soccer stadium for $500,000. The electric utility is the parent company of Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Co. based in Cuyahoga County, and Toledo Edison.
FirstEnergy’s name is also on a minor-league baseball facility in Reading, Pa., where the Reading Fightin Phils play.
FirstEnergy is headquartered in Akron and is one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems. It serves more than 6 million customers through its operating companies in a five-state footprint: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and parts of New Jersey, West Virginia and western Maryland.
Last year, FirstEnergy agreed to be the title sponsor of the financially struggling All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron for three years. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The company also has had signage at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field and in Akron at Canal Park where the Class AA minor-league baseball Akron Aeros play.