Cleveland, Ohio — Major League Baseball announced Monday that the Cleveland Indians will cease use of the Chief Wahoo logo on its uniforms after the 2018 season.
According to a New York Times article, MLB said that the logo is no longer appropriate for use on the field. However, the Indians will maintain control of the trademark and will be able to earn profits from it through merchandise sales.
This comes after several years of discussion between MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and Indians majority owner Paul Dolan. The Indians have slowly been fading the controversial logo out of its merchandise, uniforms and other items.
Undoubtedly, the Indians will continue to ease its use of Chief Wahoo throughout the 2018 season in an attempt to dampen the blow to the logo’s faithful, but backlash is to be expected.
In working for the Indians’ merchandising department over the past two season, I have realized that there is a clear line drawn between Wahoo enthusiast and Wahoo challengers. It is not uncommon for a fan to come to a merchandise stand and ask to see only items with Chief Wahoo, or vice-versa.
The Indians maintaining the trademark on the storied logo will also help ease the pain of those upset by its outlawing. Limited merchandise is still expected to be available at Progressive Field, the home of the Indians, and other stores in the Cleveland area.
This move is the first of what could be several changes to the Indians branding. Some have rallied for the team to change its name, as well.
While there have not been any notable discussion about this change, it could gain some steam now with this most recent decision. While such an extreme change is unlikely to happen in the near-future, it will be interesting to see how that topic moves forward.
The moral of the story is this: the Indians and MLB reached an agreement that can be seen as a happy medium. MLB wins because the logo is off the field, and the Indians win because they can still make money off their famed logo.
Fans also win because they can still buy merchandise and novelties with which the Chief is on. While the smiling red face will not be on the sleeves or caps of the players’ jerseys, the logo will still be present around the team and city.
Fans also can be happy that the ongoing discussions are in the past. No longer will there have to be debate on whether or not the logo is appropriate.
Put simply, we can all move on and enjoy what we all really should about the team: the competitive product on the field — sans Chief Wahoo.
Photo by Matthew Johns