The Browns made official this afternoon that they have sold the naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium to locally-headquarted First Energy. My initial thoughts on this development are much like they were when the Indians announced that Jacobs Field was being re-named Progressive Field.
I’m not so deeply attached to the name that it really feels like much. If anything, this change is less of a deal to me. It’s definitely not one of those things where I’m going to go to a game and be that guy holding up a sign saying “IT WILL ALWAYS BE CLEVELAND BROWNS STADIUM TO ME”. However, someone will undoubtedly be “that guy”. Now is as good a time as any to include the first slide on ClevelandBrowns.com’s front page. Here’s a rendering of the stadium:
Selling naming rights has become a lucrative fad in professional (and college, for that matter) sports, and it’s nothing more than an easy way to generate one more boatload of cash for the team. I have no problem with this endeavor, especially with the changes that new owner Jimmy Haslam has in mind to game day operations on the lake front.
Typically, I’d say that the Browns are the last team in Cleveland that needs to focus on game day experience (because game days are usually freezing and no experience is going to make frost bite more enjoyable), but with the way the team has played lately, fans who show up deserve some upgrades. Those will undoubtedly be coming with new team president Alec Scheiner (a specialist in the area) joining the Browns from Dallas.
Here are my thoughts from watching today’s press conference down at the stadium:
– First, before the event started, heroic NFL Films music was being played as all of the people in suits mingled on the club level of Browns Stadium. Way over the top, but still fitting in a way. Jim Donovan emceed the event.
– Orange tie count: A disappointing 1, with Jimmy Haslam being the only guy out of four on stage wearing one. Seriously, Banner? He must not read this blog. Jimmy Donovan and the First Energy guy get a pass because they’ve been here forever.
– Browns alumni were in attendance, including Brian Brennan, Kevin Mack, Greg Pruitt, and Hanford Dixon.
– Chud check: Present.
– A kick-ass video came next, complete with more heroic NFL Films music, old sound bytes and highlights that included Sipe, Newsome, and of course, Bernie Kosar. A nice touch that literally gave me goosebumps was footage of Drew Carey introducing the 1999 Cleveland Browns on opening night.
– Anthony Alexander, First Energy’s President and CEO, delivered the money quote of the day: “This is good for FirstEnergy, good for the city of Cleveland, and good for the Cleveland Browns.”
– Alexander also shared his excitement about First Energy’s major involvement in the city and their work throughout the region.
– Donovan returned to the podium to announce the stadium as being newly named FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Here’s a grainy, hastily taken picture of the handshake:
– Joe Banner and his non-orange tie said that he knows that the “Browns will make FirstEnergy proud that they stepped up at this time to be in partnership with the organization.”
– Haslam said that the money from the deal will go towards “making the Browns more competitive in a very competitive league.”
– Stadium rights have to be ran by the city of Cleveland, as they own the facility, but Haslam expects no issues there.
– Alexander was asked a zinger of a question regarding spending a lot of money on naming rights following First Energy’s recent lay-offs, and was apparently caught a little off-guard. He ended up giving a decent recovery answer about the future and all that jazz. Probably not the time and place for the question, but it’s an interesting thought.
– Haslam said the biggest improvement to the stadium that could be made is a winning team. That’d be nice.
I’m sure that Cleveland will get used to FirstEnergy Field just like we have with “The Q” and Progressive Field. Is it exciting to see all of these corporations change the original names of the facilities? No, but at the very least the three companies that own rights in Cleveland support the Cleveland community and call it home. That’s about all we can ask for in today’s hyper-commercialized society.
I’m starting to sound like a college student writing an analytical essay about commercialism in sport, so I’ll wrap it up with this. Sorry, Jessie J, but today was all about the money, and FirstEnergy didn’t pay with love. It’s a nice thought though, so I guess the moral of the story is to listen to Jessie J, not FirstEnergy? Whatever.