The Cleveland Indians will be making a big change.
After 105 years, the Ohio-based baseball team is changing its name, which has been criticized for being racist, the team confirmed in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
“In our statement in June 2020, we acknowledged the importance of taking a leadership role in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the community and enhancing our support for underserved and under-represented groups,” the statement said. “As part of that commitment, we heard from individuals and groups who shared a variety of views and opinions on the issue. We are deeply grateful for the interest and engagement from Native American communities, civic leaders, leading researchers, fans, corporate partners, players, and internal teammates devoted to these formal and informal conversations.”
The statement said, “After reflecting upon those discussions, we believe our organization is at its best when we can unify our community and bring people together – and we believe a new name will allow us to do this more fully.”
The team said the change will be a multi-phase process, and that “future decisions, including new name identification and brand development, are complex and will take time. While we work to identify a new and enduring franchise name, we will continue using the Indians name.”
The name change comes after the Cleveland team removed the Chief Wahoo logo from game jerseys and caps two years ago. The league said that the logo, which features a smiling Native American, is not appropriate for field use.
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time. “Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, [Indians owner] Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a long-standing attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team.
“Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course,” Manfred added.
Earlier this year, the Cleveland baseball team announced that they would look into the changing of the name, hours after the NFL’s Washington Football Team announced a similar move in July. Similar to the Washington team, Cleveland has faced pressure for years to change its name.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” a statement from the MLB team said on Twitter at the time. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”