There is a change in ownership for the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), as the St. Louis Cardinals are selling a majority share to Peter Freund and retaining a minority stake. Pending the approval of the Pacific Coast League, the agreement should be complete by April 1.
Terms of the sale were not released, and neither were the precise percentages of the ownership stakes. Sources say the transaction was based on a valuation of the franchise between $23 million and $24 million.
Freund, the principal owner of Trinity Baseball Holdings, will become the main owner of the Redbirds as the Cardinals retain a minority share. He is no stranger to Minor League Baseball. He is the majority owner of the Williamsport Crosscutters (short season a; NY-Penn League), co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League), and has a minority stake in the New York Yankees. That experience was apparently a factor for the Cardinals in their decision to sell.
“While we were not actively looking to sell a stake in the team, after meeting Peter we immediately knew that partnering with him would strengthen the Memphis Redbirds and be a win for everyone involved,” said Bill DeWitt Jr., Chairman and CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals. “To have someone of Peter’s caliber and track record of success in minor league baseball willing to make this investment further solidifies the revitalization of this flagship franchise and baseball in Memphis.
“I immediately fell in love with the city of Memphis and the Redbirds the moment I stepped foot in AutoZone Park and met the leadership team,” said Freund. “I am thrilled to join the St. Louis Cardinals in partnership to ensure the Memphis Redbirds remain the premier Triple-A franchise in all of minor league baseball.”
Freund will be promoting current general manager Craig Unger to the role of president and general manager. Unger will be an integral part in helping the Redbirds transition during the change.
“Craig’s leadership of this franchise over the last two years has been exemplary,” said Freund. “I look forward to working with Craig and his staff to continue building on what has already been accomplished in a relatively short period of time.”
The Cardinals first purchased the Redbirds back in March 2014, obtaining the club for a reported price of $16 million from the Memphis Redbirds Foundation. They made $6.5 million dollars in upgrades to AutoZone Park last year, completing a wide range of tasks that included the installation of a new videoboard and an overhauled club level. Since they are staying on board as minority owners, the Cardinals say that they plan to continue having the Redbirds as an affiliate.