The Cleveland Guardians roller derby team sued the Cleveland MLB team Wednesday seeking to stop the baseball organization from using the Guardians name.
The lawsuit alleges that the Cleveland baseball team knew the Guardians roller derby team existed "months before announcing the name change."
“Major League Baseball would never let someone name their lacrosse team the ‘Chicago Cubs’ if the team was in Chicago, or their soccer team the ‘New York Yankees’ if that team was in New York — nor should they,” Christopher Pardo, a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and lead attorney for the Guardians said in a statement. "The same laws that protect Major League Baseball from the brand confusion that would occur in those examples also operate in reverse to prevent what the Indians are trying to do here."
In July, Cleveland's baseball team selected Guardians as its new name beginning in 2022, culminating a project that saw nearly 1,200 potential choices to replace the franchise's previous moniker.
Seven months earlier, the organization announced it would discontinue the use of Indians as its mascot following the 2021 season. In 2019, Cleveland announced it would stop the use of the Chief Wahoo logo on its uniform.
The Guardians roller derby team is a non-profit organization in the city. Their owner, Gary Sweatt, said in a statement that they are "saddened that the Indians have forced us into having to protect the name we have used here for years."
Guardians was just one of many names considered by the Cleveland baseball team. It cited the city's Guardians of Traffic statues, which have flanked both sides of the Hope Memorial Bridge since 1932, as key to the selection. Each guardian stands 43 feet tall, and they remain the only public Art Deco monuments in Cleveland.
More MLB Coverage:
• Morton's Mystique Grows With Gutty Game 1 Performance
• Dusty Baker's Time Is Now
• 'Hell No. We're Doing It Tonight': How Atlanta's Season Shifted
• Four Hired Horsemen Leading Atlanta's Championship Charge