Cleveland baseball fans may soon flock to purchase merchandise after the team's decision to change its name from the Indians to the Guardians.
The Cleveland Indians have a long and storied history in Ohio, dating back more than a century. However, in recent years, the name has drawn controversy, with critics characterizing it as racist. On Friday, the team announced its new name would be the Cleveland Guardians, and while there are fans and detractors of the change, it could prove to be a merchandising boon.
Merchandise is a major source of revenue for teams in the MLB and the items are valuable to fans, who collect jerseys, trading cards, and hats from their favored teams. That is why, as the Indians moniker begins to phase out, some fans are likely to gobble up the expiring Indians merchandise, and others are expected to stock up on new Guardians swag.
Jason Chung, an assistant professor of sport management at the University of New Haven, told the Washington Examiner while it is still a bit speculative, he thinks people who are really attached to the old name will make a point of buying the branded merchandise before it runs dry.
“I think there will be a wave of that, but I also think there will be a wave of, especially younger consumers, that are going to gravitate toward the new name change, they’re going to want to embrace the new future of the Cleveland baseball franchise,” he said. “I think there will be a surge on both, on the new end and on the tail end.”
The store for the Indians showed dozens of shirts, hoodies, hats, and other goods for sale as of Friday afternoon. On its homepage, the site advertised a clearance sale of up to 70% off, with one T-shirt on the landing page bearing the phrase “Indians” selling for $23.74, down from its regular price of $41.99.
The change itself was announced on Twitter using a promotional video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that's the best part of our name,” Hanks said in the two-minute video clip. “And now it's time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”
The change of name had been anticipated. The Indians' old mascot, Chief Wahoo, a caricatured Native American with red skin, was abandoned after the 2018 season. The latest change was met with jeers by some, with former President Donald Trump trashing the move in a Friday email.
“Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians? Such a disgrace, and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country,” Trump said in a statement.
Chung pointed out that back in 1997, the NBA’s Washington Bullets were rebranded as the Washington Wizards because of the connotations to violence and the high level of crime in the team’s home city of Washington, D.C.
Chung said the name took a while to take root but is now well established among fans after more than two decades.
At the end of the day, successful adoption of the new name and logo will come down to execution on the part of the team, according to Chung. He said he thinks it will because the name is germane to the city — the name is a reference to the large art-deco statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge — and because it did well in unofficial polling bodes.
“I think the team had done a good job of tying the name together with a logical local landmark,” Chung said. “That will help ease a lot of the concerns.”
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Original Author: Zachary Halaschak
Original Location: Cleveland Indians name change to Guardians could be merchandising windfall