CLEVELAND – Like expecting parents, the Cleveland Indians are trying to settle on a name.
It's proving to be a tedious, testing process.
The team said Thursday it now has a final list from an initial pool of nearly 1,200 entries. It is vetting the possible team names for legal purposes after months of research and discussions with fans.
In December, the Indians said they were changing their name for the first time since 1915. The decision came during a national movement to remove and replace prejudicial names and symbols, and after a strong push from Native American groups who deemed the existing name racist.
The team began meeting with groups of fans in February. Based on those discussions and feedback from meetings with community leaders, local influencers and staff members, the team concluded the new name needed to connect with the city, preserve the team's history and unite the community.
The initial list consisted of 1,198 names. It's not known how many names are being given final consideration for what will be the club's new identity.
Owner Paul Dolan told The Associated Press in December the new name will not have any Native American themes or connotations.
“We’ve engaged our fans and community on many aspects of our team name process,” said Curtis Danburg, the team's vice president of communications and community impact. “We felt it was important to share our research journey and what we’ve learned so far.”
The forthcoming name change has sparked lively debate among Cleveland fans, some wanting the club to remain the Indians. Among the most popular names pushed by fans on social media are the Spiders, Guardians and Avengers.
Dating to 1865, Cleveland's baseball team has previously been called the Spiders, Blues and Forest Citys.
Once the Indians have selected their final name choices, they'll draft options for logos, word marks and other brand elements. The club will also work with Major League Baseball to ensure legal viabilities.
The name change will complete a rebranding by the Indians, who removed their contentious Chief Wahoo logo from their game jerseys and caps several years ago. The team, however, continues to sell merchandise featuring the grinning, cartoonish mascot.
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