Cleveland owner confirms dropping ‘Indians’ from team name

CLEVELAND, Ohio — In a bid to distance the franchise from the criticisms of both Native American groups and fans, The Cleveland Indians could have a new moniker as early as 2022, The New York Times reported late Sunday.

Update 1:59 p.m. ET Dec. 14: Cleveland team owner Paul Dolan confirmed that the major league baseball team is changing its name, but will remain as the Indians at least through the 2021 season, The Associated Press reported.

“The name is no longer acceptable in our world,” Dolan told the AP. He said the team will continue to be called Indians until a new name is chosen.

“We’ll be the Indians in 2021 and then after that, it’s a difficult and complex process to identify a new name and do all the things you do around activating that name,” Dolan told the AP. “We are going to work at as quick a pace as we can while doing it right.

“But we’re not going to do something just for the sake of doing it. We’re going to take the time we need to do it right.”

Dolan said the team will not adopt an interim name, like the Washington Football Team did after dropping its longtime “Redskins” nickname.

“We don’t want to be the Cleveland Baseball Team or some other interim name,” Dolan told the AP. “We will continue to be the Indians until we have identified the next name that will hopefully take us through multiple centuries.”

Original report: The team expects to maintain its current mascot and uniforms in 2021, and adopt the new persona ahead of the 2022 season, Sports Illustrated reported.

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The team’s decision comes less than six months after the NFL’s Washington Football Team opted to cease using “a name long considered a racial slur” and amid nationwide outcries against systemic racism and police violence, the Times reported.

The franchise already spent the majority of the offseason prior to the 2019 season phasing out imagery and logos associated with longtime mascot Chief Wahoo, but the Times reported that establishing a concrete timeline for rebranding is elusive because the logistics – such as uniform design, stadium signage and team equipment – involve multiple other parties.

One source told the Times that the club could very easily take a page from the Washington Football Team’s playbook and opt to move forward with a generic moniker before ultimately crowdsourcing the team’s new identity.

Other professional sports teams, including the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Blackhawks, have indicated in recent months that they have no plans to alter their brands, the Times reported.

According to SI, Cleveland announced in July, only hours after the Washington Football Team announced it would undergo “a thorough review of the team’s name,” that the club would consider changing its team mascot.

“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advocate social justice and equality,” the franchise stated in July. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”

Read the complete Times report here.