CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians Chairman and CEO Paul Dolan addressed several important topics with WTAM 1100's Wills & Snyder on Monday prior to his club taking the field for their home opener against the Royals.
The Tribe's owner was asked about the status of changing the team's nickname, which he has said may not happen until after next season. "We are well into the process and there's a list of names. We are working on trying to clear as many names as possible so we can then make a decision. Some names, it's become apparent to us, we are not going to have access to. Some names we hope we will have access to. Once we have a clear understanding, then we'll be in the position to make a decision."
After a 2020 season that saw no fans allowed at Progressive Field due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is starting with the Indians able to fill the ballpark to 30% capacity. Does Dolan have any idea when more fans might be able to attend games?
"I know the governor (Mike DeWine) has said he'd like to have all restrictions lifted by July 4. Depending on the course of the virus and how fast we can all get vaccinated, I guess I'm hopeful those restrictions will be off sooner than that," he added.
The Indians have had a strong run of success in recent seasons, making it to the postseason in four of the past five years. Expectations are a little lower this year following the offseason trade of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and the club payroll shrinking down to $49 million, lowest in all of MLB. Despite those realities, Dolan still has faith in his team.
"Our expectations remain high. This is a talented team, starting with the reigning Cy Young Award winner (Shane Bieber) and the reigning runner up to the American League MVP (Jose Ramirez). There's a lot of talent, but admittedly there are more questions about this team than there may have been the last few years. And we need to get answers. We need to find out who amongst the talented group of young players we have are actually going to be successful major leaguers. That's what the first half of the season is all about," Dolan said.
Dolan also told Bill Wills and Mike Snyder that the team is in negotiations for extending its lease with Progressive Field, which is due to expire in 2023. "Everyone is working hard to getting us satisfactory results," he added, without going into further detail.
In addition, Dolan confirmed the club is looking for a minority investor to replace John Sherman, who is now the owner of the Kansas City Royals. "John has to sell his interest, and he's out doing that. We may tack on a little bit to see if we can find someone who would buy more than John's interest. We aren't in any hurry, but we do see this as an opportunity to do something along those lines," Dolan stated, adding that he plans to continue to be the team's majority owner.
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