Chicago Cubs: South Bend dojo to undergo some major mojo

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Four Winds Field may be getting a significant upgrade in the near future. The story, however, goes much deeper than that. Andrew Berlin has owned the Chicago Cubs Class High-A minor league affiliate now for a decade. This past week he celebrated the anniversary in style with a giant sheet cake.

Berlin originally bought the team from an investor group. The money itself was fronted by the former mayor and governor of Indiana, Joe Kernan. Berlin, at the time, had a stake in Chicago’s other Major League Baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, and had made it known of his interest in an MLB team controlling stake.

Jerry Reinsdorf, who, outside of his ownership of the Chicago Bulls, owns the Chicago White Sox, helped Berlin pioneer a path toward that dream. In 2011 the South Bend Cubs were affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks under a different name – the Silverhawks. As a result, they became available for purchase. However, Berlin was not captivated by the idea.

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The 2014 season came amidst exciting buzz as the Chicago Cubs took the former Diamondbacks affiliate under its umbrella and officially became the South Bend Cubs. As a result, the environment changed immensely as now over 80 percent of home games sell out each season.

Berlin has also spent $9 million of his own money in ballpark renovations and honestly wants to make Four Winds Field a familial place. In that case, Berlin wants to bring in an upper deck, circling foul pole to foul pole.

Due to a state law stemming back to 1997 from the Indiana General Assembly, this year, the city will be able to capture sales and income tax generated at the ballpark to keep people from paying higher taxes in a project of this propensity. Great news for the renovation plan and great news for the South Bend faithful.

It does pose the question about minor league pay to the ballplayers and what that looks like moving forward. However, a project such as this is its entity and does not affect players’ salaries.
The money generated by income tax and sales does not automatically go to the team as it is not guaranteed. A $2 million annual amount is the cap, and the facility, in this case, the ballpark, must make a request, and approval is needed.

Richard Nussbaum, who represents the legal side for South Bend’s club, hopes to receive the necessary funds. Additional upgrades will be complete, too, per Major League Baseball, by 2025.
There are currently three Minor League Baseball Single-A clubs with upper decks — the Kane County Cougars, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Beloit Snappers. Four Winds Field would become the fourth stadium to have upper deck access.

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Four years ago, Baseball Digest named Four Winds Field the nation’s best Class-A minor league park. Berlin is hopeful that continued expanse and renovations at the stadium will continue to create a home away from home and is excited for what it brings to the future of South Bend Cubs baseball.