By Bret McCormick
The Browns have picked Legends to find a new naming rights sponsor for the team’s stadium. Legends, which won an RFP for the Browns’ business, has worked with the team’s owners, Haslam Sports Group, previously, securing the naming rights for the Columbus Crew’s Lower.com Field and overseeing the $314M MLS stadium’s construction. Legends and the Browns are pursuing a long-term partner with Cleveland roots that values a national spotlight.
“We’ll look through those lenses to see what kind of companies can reap from both,” said Chris Hibbs, President, Legends Global Partnerships. “We’ll be exhaustive; that’s what our clients expect.”
The Browns have been considering a potential renovation of Cleveland Browns Stadium or a new stadium altogether, giving Legends an angle with which to pitch potential naming rights sponsors. “Whether it’s a renovated building or a new building makes it kind of fun, kind of complex,” said Hibbs. “You’re talking about a story that’s going to grow or evolve.”
Legends has clinched five naming rights deals in sports and entertainment so far this year, including the Bills’ New Highmark Stadium, Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field, and PGA of America’s Monument Realty PGA District at PGA Frisco. Its growing NFL naming rights business includes SoFi Stadium, Allegiant Stadium, and the recent New Highmark Stadium. For this project, Chad Estis (EVP, Legends), Scott Malaga (VP, Legends Global Partnerships) and Hibbs will lead Legends’ efforts, while Eric Clouse (Chief Commercial Officer), Dave Jenkins (EVP and COO) and Erica Muhleman (SVP, Corporate Partnerships) will lead the Browns’ side.
Cleveland Browns Stadium, located in downtown Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie, was called FirstEnergy Stadium from 2013 to April of this year, but the agreement was mutually ended seven years early following FirstEnergy’s complicity in a bribery scandal that sent the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives to prison. The Browns handled the naming rights search a decade ago in-house and were receiving roughly $6M annually from FirstEnergy for the stadium naming rights until the deal was voided.