Cleveland Guardians launch begins with store sign crashing into sidewalk

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A special opening day for the new Cleveland Guardians has started off with a bang.

Not the one they hoped for either.

As fans purchased the first Guardians merchandise available on Friday as the team officially transitioned from Indians after 106 years, a sign outside the team’s store at Progressive Field detached from its mount and went off. crashed on the sidewalk.

“Well that’s a worrying sign,” shouted a spectator.

A worker was on a ladder checking the bolts when the panel snapped off a small section of the stadium’s stone exterior, fell about 15 feet, and shattered into pieces. No one was hurt.

Fans began lining up early in the morning to purchase new caps, sweatshirts, t-shirts and other gear bearing the Guardians logos.

“This kind of exceeds expectations,” said Karen Fox, the team’s director of merchandising. “People show up at 6.30am, then we had 100 people at 9.14am. You can kind of see the store looks like a game today.”

Greg Foote and his 15-year-old son Lucas hadn’t planned to be the first, but it turned out that way. And as they waited to get inside, Slider, Cleveland’s furry mascot, rewarded them with Guardians’ stocking caps as freebies – perfect props on a freezing downtown morning.

Like others in the store, the Footes were getting materials to update their own wardrobes while crossing out some Christmas shopping lists.

“These are for him,” Elder Foote said, clutching a few objects as his son pretended not to notice.

After months of build-up and talk about the name change, Fox said the store’s opening made it all real.

“It was like when you were a little kid waiting for Christmas morning,” she said. “That’s kind of how it feels for our merchandising team and the whole organization. Just that, here we are, a new era and you can see all the fans who are excited about it too.”

The team also changed their social media handles to complete the switch, a process that began in June 2020, when owner Paul Dolan announced that the major league team was ditching the Indians over a reckoning. social on racist names and symbols.

The Guardians ran into a legal issue along the way as a local roller derby team, also known as the Guardians, filed a trademark infringement complaint. The parties reached an out-of-court resolution earlier this week, allowing both to use the name.

The team will continue to sell Indian equipment – which was almost sold out at the end of last season – at the baseball stadium, with the proceeds going to youth organizations and causes, Fox said.

It will take some time for the Guardians to figure out some fans, and there could be an extended period of new jerseys and caps as seen in the stadium along with familiar and worn ones.

“There are still people who love the name Indians and they can still wear it here,” Fox said. “Really, it’s the team on the ground, it’s the city of Cleveland that is important.”

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