CLEVELAND — It appears Cleveland's Major League Baseball franchise has officially settled on a new name.
One small catch: We have no idea what it is yet.
Longtime Cleveland.com beat writer Paul Hoynes reports the Indians have officially selected a new moniker, but aren't yet ready to reveal it publicly. When reached by 3News ballclub officials said they "can't comment at this time."
Hoynes joined 3News' Jim Donovan Thursday evening to tell us what he knows. He says an announcement could come within the next two weeks, but there is still no exact indication as to what the name could be:
The team first announced in July of 2020 that it was exploring a name change before confirming last December it would go in a different direction. Critics have long decried the current identity as racist towards Native Americans, and after years of holding firm owner Paul Dolan finally had a change of heart following las year's murder of George Floyd that sparked new conversations on racial injustices in America.
"There is definitely some pain in this," Dolan told the Associated Press immediately after announcing a change would be made. "It's the end of an era or the beginning of an era. But accompanying that is the recognition and maybe even excitement that we’re going on to do something that is better."
Cleveland's baseball club has been known as the Indians since 1915, with the organization long stating this was in honor of Penobscot Indian and former Cleveland Spiders outfielder Louis Sockalexis (although the true origin story is much more complicated than that). Dolan has stressed that he and the team will "honor our past" and not shy away from the many iconic Indians moments of the past century-plus, but hopes the new name will be something that further "unites the community."
Even before it became known a change was coming, fans already started coming up with suggestions, with "Spiders," "Guardians," "Municipals," and others among the top contenders. A 3News survey conducted before the start of the 2021 season showed "Spiders" as the top choice with 27.7% of the vote.
Dolan has already stated the team would not go the route of the NFL's former Washington Redskins and select an interim name ("Washington Football Team"), meaning "Indians" is here to stay until a new identity is selected. The owner has also said that might not be until 2023, although today's news certainly makes it seem like it will come sooner rather than later.
Just last month, the Indians revealed they had a list of almost 1,200 possible names to pick from, and would continue to speak with fans and community leaders during a 14-round vetting process before eventually settling on a list of finalists. They had already sent out their own survey to fans asking them what they would like to see in a new moniker, although no specific options were mentioned at that time.
The team has already tried to shift away from its current identity over the years, notably in 2018 when it dropped its controversial Chief Wahoo logo from its uniforms. The Native American caricature is still sold on gear in the team shop and fans are allowed to wear the image inside Progressive Field, although items such as headdresses and face paint have been banned.
Check out 3News' previous coverage on what the new name could be:
- 'SPIDERS': The current favorite in 3News' poll for the Indians' new name has a deep, rich history
- 'GUARDIANS': The 'trendy' pick to be the Indians' new name
- 'ROCKERS': 'Cleveland Rockers': Could the Indians get musical with their new name?
- 'MUNICIPALS': Contender for Indians' new name, has a lot of grassroots support
- 'BUCKEYES': Possible Indians name option could pay homage to city's storied Negro League history
- 'CLEVELAND BASEBALL CLUB': What if the Indians went with no name at all?
- BEST OF THE REST: What are some of the other options for the Indians' new name?