CLEVELAND -- Chief Wahoo's time on the field is coming to end.
Off the field, however, you'll still be able to purchase the polarizing logo.
Although the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball announced on Monday that the team will erase Chief Wahoo from its jerseys and logos beginning in 2019, the franchise will maintain its trademark and retail rights on the logo. According to The New York Times, the Indians will still be able to sell Chief Wahoo in its souvenir shops at Progressive Field and in retail outlets throughout the northern Ohio market.
Chief Wahoo items won't, however, be available on Major League Baseball's official online store, MLBShop.com.
The impetus behind maintaining the Chief Wahoo trademark appears to be twofold. For one, by not relinquishing the rights, the Indians prevent any other organization from assuming control of the logo in the future. As noted by ESPN's Darren Rovell, Cleveland's "enterprising" t-shirt market would likely stand to benefit from the Indians and baseball dropping their rights to the logo.
Of course, it also makes sense that the Indians would want to continue to profit off the symbol. Although the MLB deemed the logo "no longer appropriate for use on field," with those who oppose it deeming it racist and offensive, Chief Wahoo still has plenty of support from members of the Cleveland fanbase.
In a statement regarding Chief Wahoo's future, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said:
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game. 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.”
Neither commented on the Indians' planned use of the logo from a retail standpoint.