CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - After years of debate, the Cleveland Indians announced Monday that the team's mascot, Chief Wahoo, will no longer be on the team's uniforms starting in the 2019 season.
Indians fans have been split over the years about whether the logo is racially-insensitive and should be removed with many groups saying the Indians should find another logo to represent the team.
Fans will still be able to buy Indians gear with the Chief even as he disappears from the Indians game day uniforms.
To maintain their copyright, Indians gear featuring Chief Wahoo will remain available at Northeast Ohio retailers.
Major League Baseball agreed with the Indians that there is just not enough lead time, before the 2018 season to remove the logo from around the ballpark, and with the season starting in April there is not enough time to change the uniforms and hats.
The Block C primarily in red, but also in blue and white, has been the Indians primary logo since 2014 and will now take an even more prominent role. Also, script Indians will remain as a secondary logo.
Many people are asking if the Indians will now consider a name change. The answer is no and there are no plans to even begin that discussion.
Changing the team name was not a part of the negotiation with the MLB.
Some fans are convinced that the Indians were granted the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star game as part of this agreement.
The Indians insist that is not true and say that the All-Star game discussions were in the pipeline way before the talks to eliminate Chief Wahoo even began.
Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. announced today that the Cleveland Indians will remove the "Chief Wahoo" logo from their uniforms, effective with the 2019 season. The announcement comes following thoughtful and productive discussions between Major League Baseball and the Indians.
"Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game," said Commissioner Manfred. "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, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding 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 acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course."
"We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion," said Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan. "While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I'm ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred's desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019."
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson agrees with the Indians' decision:
"The decision by the Cleveland Indians to retire Chief Wahoo from team uniforms is wonderful news for the city. I applaud the team's decision to show the city, nation and world that Cleveland is an inclusive place that values all diversity - in this case showing greater honor to our nation's first people by retiring the Wahoo mascot from uniforms."
Walter Goldbach created the iconic and controversial Chief Wahoo for the Indians as a teenager in 1946.
He died last month at the age of 88.