Another big affiliation shift: the Chicago Cubs have decided to leave Kane County and will enter a new affiliation deal with the South Bend Silver Hawks (Low Class A; Midwest League).
The shift was announced today by Silver Hawks owner Andrew Berlin.
“Today is a turning point,” said Berlin in a press release. “I made a promise to the local community and government officials who welcomed me with open arms three years ago. I promised that I would return the team to its former glory days. And I promised that I’d do everything I could to bring people back to South Bend and prove that this is a wonderful place to invest in.
“Now, one of the best and most beloved brands in the history of Major League Baseball is making a bold statement about this place too!” added Berlin. “The Chicago Cubs are giving South Bend and this whole region a big vote of confidence.”
“We are excited to partner with South Bend and look forward to a productive relationship with the team, as well as the entire South Bend community,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs Senior Vice President, Scouting and Player Development. “Making the decision to switch minor league affiliates is never an easy one, but we are confident that this agreement will further strengthen our farm system.”
“It’s a great day for the city and for the team,” said Joe Hart, president of the South Bend Silver Hawks. “I’m grateful to the Chicago Cubs management for believing in our commitment to player development and especially for believing in this region. This really says a lot about the whole Michiana community. The Cubs were impressed with everything that makes this such a great place.”
The reason for the move, we are told (beside the upcoming South Bend ballpark improvements): it will give the Cubs a chance to expand its media-rights footprint. Proximity, in this case, really didn’t help the Cougars in terms of secondary considerations. As we’ve noted several times the past week, MLB teams have successful used MiLB affiliations to expand broadcast deals; the Minnesota Twins expanded their Iowa presence after a Cedar Rapids Kernels (Low Class A; Midwest League) affiliation, and the upcoming San Francisco Giants/Sacramento River Cats affiliation will extend the team’s reach far into northern California.
This is just the beginning of the changes for South Bend: the team is planning on a new name, logo and branding for the 2015 season.
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