Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For the first time in franchise history, the Cleveland Browns will play in a home bearing the name of a corporate sponsor.
The team, along with executives from FirstEnergy unveiled the new name for Cleveland Browns Stadium Tuesday afternoon – FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Browns.
Owner Jimmy Haslam, CEO Joe Banner, team president Alec Scheiner, coach Rob Chudzinski and several former Browns were on hand for the unveiling.
“We’re excited that it’s a northeast Ohio company, a company that’s been around a long time,” Haslam said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with FirstEnergy as a partner.”
Terms of the deal, which is subject to approval by Cleveland City Council, were not disclosed and will be kept confidential.
Haslam said the newest revenue stream for the team will be used to help keep the Browns competitive in the NFL.
Under the terms of the lease agreement with the city, the Browns were permitted to sell naming rights to the 14-year old stadium and keep the revenues associated with it.
“We’re going to do everything we can do to make this team competitive,” Haslam said. “And having naming rights makes you competitive. First things first and that’s being competitive and the second thing is improving this stadium.”
Banner will be meeting with architects within the next 30 days to begin assessing the current competitive state of the stadium as well as wish list of potential renovations going forward.
“We’re very open about what might happen with the stadium,” Haslam said. “We do want it to be a better place for fans to attend games. That could include everything from keeping the restrooms cleaner to having shorter lines to what we might do with signage to what we might do with Wi-Fi.”
They have already begun looking at additional renovations or an expansion of their existing training facility in Berea, which originally opened in 1991. The complex most recently underwent substantial renovations in 2009.
In 2009, Eric Mangini relocated all non-football related personnel, i.e. sales and marketing staffers, to the stadium to work.Banner would like to reverse that and bring the entire organization together again.
“One of the primary objectives is to try to get everybody in one place,” Banner said.
Haslam said that no decision has been made as to whether or not they will stick with the traditional grass or switch the playing surface to a synthetic field turf.
“That’s to be determined,” Haslam said. “I want to be real careful there because there are some strong feelings. Some people are real strong artificial surface and some are real pro grass. We are going to take a look at everything.”
Upgrading the fan experience at FirstEnergy Stadium is priority No. 1 for new team president Alec Scheiner but Haslam stressed that the one thing guaranteed to improve the fan experience is simple – winning.