Guardians era officially arrives in Cleveland

November 19th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- A new era in Cleveland has begun.

Employees at Progressive Field spent the last week prepping for the club’s first big step in transitioning from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians. Shelves of old merchandise were cleared and replaced with gear boasting a new font, new logos and a new team name in anticipation of the team store doors flying open on Friday morning at 9 ET.

The organization was expecting a decent crowd to circulate in and out of its team store for the grand opening of the Guardians era, and the results exceeded expectations. Fans started lining up outside of the ballpark at 6:30 a.m. ET, waiting for the doors to open. And within 14 minutes of the store being open, 100 customers had already begun sifting through the merchandise.

"It was like when you think of when you were a little kid and you're waiting for Christmas morning," Guardians director of merchandising Karen Fox said of the anticipation for the launch. "That's kind of how it feels for our merch team today and I'm sure the whole organization. Just here we are, a new era and you can see all the fans that are about it, too."

This historic transformation provides the Cleveland franchise a clean slate.

A franchise that has endured controversy over Chief Wahoo and the Indians moniker now looks squarely to the future instead of the past.

For a team that owns the longest championship drought in the game, a fresh start may be exactly what’s needed.

This transition was spurred by the club’s desire to best represent its community. The decision to change its nickname was based upon the desire to be inclusive, which led to a survey of 40,000 fans as well as 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and front-office personnel. After all of that, the organization decided upon “Guardians” as the name that best represented what the club learned from its community of fans.

When facing the 43-foot “Guardians of Traffic” that have stood tall for nearly 100 years on the Hope Memorial Bridge, Progressive Field looms in the background. The two are now forever connected -- the sculptures that have served the city as beacons of progress now trickling over to the city’s baseball team.

“That's one key component, the resiliency of people here in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, and the loyalty,” Cleveland’s president of business operations Brian Barren said in July, when the team name was first announced. “The loyalty to Cleveland, the loyalty to one another as teammates, as co-workers, as family and friends. Those all become part of what 'Guardians' really starts to evoke from an emotional standpoint.”

Now that the roots of the Guardians have been planted in this team’s history, the club is ready to grow. The Guardians want to build more excitement around the team, setting that tone Friday morning by handing out free donuts, coffee, raffle prizes and a gift to the first 50 shoppers at the team store.

The hope of creating a more promising and successful future at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario will continue with the beginning of renovations (that will continue for the next handful of years) to the ballpark that opened in 1994 and with the intention of putting a better product on the field next year.

The Guardians front office has indicated the plan to spend more money this offseason than it has over the last few on the heels of the first losing season in manager Terry Francona’s nine-year tenure in Cleveland. It shouldn’t take fans long to rally behind the Guardians if all of these planned improvements are able to come together.