Cleveland's two Guardians resolve their name dispute. Progressive Field deal advances in council
Cleveland's Major League Baseball franchise and a local roller derby club have reached a resolution in a lawsuit filed over the use of the name Guardians, allowing both to continue using it.
The two sides on Tuesday jointly announced an “amicable resolution,” an agreement that permits the baseball team to continue its changeover to Guardians - a switch that was delayed due to the legal matter and isn't completely finished.
No other terms of the agreement were disclosed.
The legal scuffle was another hurdle in a long route to the official name change for the MLB team, whose decision to drop its name angered some fans and alienated others. The American League team has been known as the Indians since 1915.
Next season, they'll be the Guardians, a name chosen following a yearlong process that sprang from a national reckoning over racist names and symbols.
Last month, the Cleveland Guardians roller derby team, which was formed in 2013, filed its lawsuit alleging the baseball team's name change infringed on the roller derby team's trademark and employed deceptive trade practices, violating a state law.
“A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team’s name and use it for itself,” the lawsuit said. “There cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland, and, to be blunt, Plaintiff was here first.”
Now that the legal entanglement has been resolved, the Guardians baseball team can begin selling merchandise. The team had been hoping to have new jerseys and caps on store shelves in time for holiday shopping.
Earlier this month, the team began removing Indians signs in and around Progressive Field.
Progressive Field financing deal moves forward
Cleveland City Council is moving ahead with its portion of financing for the $435 million renovation of Progressive Field.
Under the deal unveiled this summer, the Guardians would agree to a new 15-year lease to remain at the current stadium in Downtown Cleveland until at least 2036.
Public contributions from the city, county and state would make up two-thirds of the project’s costs, with the team paying the other one-third.
During discussion of the proposal in council's Development, Planning and Sustainability committee Tuesday, Ward 8 Councilman Mike Polensek said it was a tough sell.
"Immense poverty, 4,000 abandoned homes in this city approximately, the crime and public safety issues, all the quality of life issues that I'm wrestling with, and here we're being requested to finance another sporting complex," Polensek said.
Cuyahoga County approved its share of the funding, about $138 million, on Nov. 9 and will sell $202 million in bonds to fund part of the work.
Cleveland’s portion totals about $117 million, with the majority of the yearly contribution coming from parking garage revenues and a tax on admissions.
Progressive Field was last renovated in 2015.
The plan passed the committee without opposition and will be heard next in the Finance committee.
Additional reporting from Ideastream Public Media's Matt Richmond and Glenn Forbes.