CLEVELAND — Professional baseball in Cleveland will soon be played by a team with a different name, the team announced on Monday.
The Cleveland Indians began holding discussions about the possibility of a name change this summer after years of protests calling the team name and former Chief Wahoo logo “derogatory,” “racist,” and “offensive."
Manager Terry Francona said in July that he believed the time had come for the team to change its name after more than 100 years.
“I think it’s time to move forward,” Francona said. “It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate.”
Team Owner and Chairman Paul Dolan said hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, the team gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.
"As a result of that process, we have decided to move forward with changing the current team name and determining a new, non-Native American based name for the franchise," the team said in a press release.
The team said that the decision to change the current name will be a multi-phase process and that future decisions including name identification and brand development will "take time."
"While we work to identify a new and enduring franchise name, we will continue using the Indians name," the team said.
Native American groups have, for years, demanded the team change its name and encouraged the organization to “eliminate harmful and racist Native American sports mascots, names, and imagery.” The organization removed the Chief Wahoo logo in 2019 from on-field use and around Progressive Field.
Sundance, executive director of the Cleveland American Indian Movement, responded to the news of the team's name change.
After 1/2 century of protest, of course we are happy to hear that the franchise is finally making the changes that we have long demanded.
However the franchise says that it is working with the local Native community, and we are dubious of that claim. Our fear is that, once again, the franchise will attempt to make dupes of the Native community and use this occasion to weave a false narrative in support of transitioning to from 'Indians' to 'Tribe' -- which is unacceptable. In that vein, and for the sake of transparency, we insist that Cleveland Baseball be very specific about whom they have consulted, with and to what ends.
So while we greet this news with skepticism, if the announcement occurs certainly we will welcome this long overdue change.
Since the news of Cleveland's baseball team discussing a name change broke in July, fans have sounded off. Some understand the desire to change the name, others adamantly argue for keeping it the same.
A Twitter poll in July showed that 70.9% of respondents didn't want the team to change its name.
Question: Do you think the #Indians should change their name?— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) July 3, 2020
On Sunday, fans reacted to the New York Times report that the team will be changing its name as early as next week, and once again the opinions vary.
"I think it’s a little bit PC but if Native Americans don’t necessarily want it, I’m fine with changing to a different name," said fan T.J. Kalvas. "It makes sense that if a group of people are affected by it then we should probably change it and respect them for what they want."
Dan Deuble, another fan, said that changing the team which has been used for the past 105 years seems "blasphemous" but won't stop him from watching them play.
"The fact that people want to change the Cleveland Indians to anything else kinda seems blasphemous to me," Deuble said. "I just think it’s people caving into the nomenclature. It doesn’t matter what you call yourselves. I’m going to watch regardless."
Some fans hope that the team doesn't opt for a generic stand-in name like the Washington Football Team did, but instead chose something meaningful to the area.
"If they go back to the Spiders or they go back to something else I would fully support it," said fan Kevin Nicholls.
It appears for many fans that no matter how they feel about the decision to change the name, they'll continue to watch and support their home team.
"It wouldn’t change my view of watching it, watching the Indians at all, or whatever they change their name to," Nicholl said.