Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan said Monday an “awakening or epiphany” after the death of George Floyd was a part of the reason why the team name will eventually change.
Dolan and the organization announced it officially started the process of changing the team’s name but it will likely stay as the Indians through the 2021 season. Dolan told the Associated Press in an interview that he “empathizes” with fans who don’t want the name altered. Cleveland has been known as the Indians since 1915.
“I fully understand it. I consider myself a fifth-generation Clevelander. It’s in our blood and baseball and the Indians are synonymous, and that goes to the whole intent versus impact thing. Nobody intended anything negative by our attachment to the name Indians, but the impact has been tough,” he said.
In a statement attributed to Dolan, he said that he talked to Native American and local leaders about the name.
“Hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them. We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community,” Dolan said.
“I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful. When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team. While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name.”