CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians are narrowing a final list of new names and vetting them for legal purposes after months of research and discussions with fans.
The American League team announced in December that it is changing its name for the first time since 1915, a move that came after an acknowledgment of it being racist and demeaning to some people.
The team began meeting with groups of fans in February, and following several brainstorm sessions, nearly 1,200 potential names were aggregated.
“Since our name change announcement, we have been conducting extensive research. We’re hosting discussions focused on a range of topics– from what it means to be a Clevelander to why baseball traditions are so important,” the team said.
The team boosted 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and teammates, as well as more than 40,000 fans surveyed. The club said common themes like connect, preserve and unite emerged.
“Once we narrow the list of names, we will begin to draft creative options for logos, word marks and other brand elements. This is when we see the name and brand start to come to the life,” the Indians said. “During this phase we will also work with Major League Baseball to ensure the legal viability of the name. The names go through a strict vetting process to make sure they’re legally sound for trademark protection.”
The club has said that it has three main themes for a new name: preserving Cleveland baseball history, uniting the community and connecting to the city of Cleveland.
In a statement a team spokesman said they’re keeping the process as transparent as possible. Officials feel it was important to share their research journey and what has been learned so far.
Comedian Ricky Smith the founder of Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere is one of the people the team interviewed to help them come up with a new name.
“For them to reach out to leaders and folks in the community and eventually the fans to vote — I think that’s cool,” said Smith. “Some of the best memories I have with my dad are with sports so whether you change it from the Indians to the Spiders to the Baseball Club — for me it’s going to be the team I’m going to root for, I’m gonna love and hopefully I’ll get a World Series to watch.”
“Cleveland is one of those cities that sometimes gets a bad rap but then you step out into the world and realize that we are so present everywhere,” said Cleveland raised Kelle Rozell who created the website Black Dollar Index was also asked about Cleveland.
Her take is that Cleveland is a city that has is tough and a lot of pride, so she believes they have to name the baseball team something that reflects that.
“They recognize that it is problematic and want to find an inclusive way to change it and also to honor the city and make it tie back to who Cleveland is,” Rozell said.
The team has not said when it will officially announce a change.
You can also follow the latest on the team’s website.