The Indianapolis Indians are launching an effort to explore the possibility of changing the team’s name after nearly 120 years. In a statement released Tuesday, the team said it is forming a committee to discuss the issue while also gathering community input.
The Indians, which is the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, says the move is being made because “the appropriateness of our team is being questioned.”
The team did not provide a timeline for a possible decision or details on how members of the community could provide input.
You can read the team’s full statement below:
Indianapolis Indians baseball dates back to 1902 and it’s been the organization’s goal to be low-cost family entertainment for all fans in an inclusive environment. We take this mission very seriously. We also feel strongly about the relationship we have with our fans, community and corporate partners. Knowing that the appropriateness of our team name is being questioned, we will be forming a committee to explore it while also gathering community input. As background, the name is derived from our state, Indiana, which means “Land of the Indians” and our city, Indianapolis, which means “City of Indians.”
We are prepared to collaborate with our community and appropriate stakeholders. We understand that our team name has not been endorsed by some but trust they understand the historic and respectful context in which it has been used over the years. We are committed to engage, listen and exchange ideas.
The move by the Indians follows the recent decision to change the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. The team has not unveiled a replacement name but is temporarily calling itself the Washington Football Team.
Richard Sheehan, a professor of finance in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, told Inside INdiana Business that Washington’s decision could leader to greater profits for the team and the league in the long term.
“The interesting question is why did it take the franchise so long to change names? Likely the simple answer is that the perceived cost of retaining the old name was outweighed by the financial benefits of changing the name,” said Sheehan. “Most of the NFL’s revenue is generated through their massive television deals. Those are unlikely to change appreciably with the name change. There are other revenue sources, however, that will be sensitive to the name change potentially including merchandising and licensing, local media rights, stadium naming rights, sponsorships, and concessions. Merchandising and licensing is generally undertaken at the national level with those revenues equally split among all franchises. The former name of the Washington franchise name likely slightly reduced those revenues. Changing the name likely will lead to a small increase in those revenues, and that increase will be split equally among all franchises.”
The Indians are currently waiting to begin the 2021 season after Major League Baseball canceled the current season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.