A new year on the horizon brings big changes to the Iowa Cubs

Mandatory Credit: Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory Credit: Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK /

The grind toward the flip of the calendar from 2021 to 2022 will bring new ownership to the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs, for the first time in two-plus decades. Announced recently, a California-based sports and entertainment conglomerate, Endeavor, has made Iowa one of nine teams of recent purchase as part of their newly created organization, Diamond Baseball Holdings.

Mark Shapiro, the current President of Endeavor, recently announced the news. If you are wondering if it is the same Mark Shapiro who is the current President of the Toronto Blue Jays, it is not. However, to give a little backstory, it is essential to track and understand the trends as it is a monumental event. The last time the I-Cubs changed ownership, 34-year-old Benito Santiago was manning the backstop for the big league Cubs and Mark Grace was nearing the end of his career.

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Since 1999, Michael Gartner and his sons have owned and operated the Cubs’ top minor league affiliate. A few years before the club was purchased by Gartner, Endeavor, which was initially a broad talent agency, opened its doors.

A decade-plus later, Endeavor merged with another company called William Morris Agency. They, in turn, shifted to buying yet another sports marketing agency, called IMG, and shortly after that reunified the Endeavor name. Endeavor’s current CEO, Ariel Emanuel, is the brother of Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of the City of Chicago.

As is the case with many prominent sports marketing and event-based companies, Endeavor is widely known across the world’s stage. Its operations span 30 countries and are involved with many additional live events such as UFC.

The Iowa Cubs are one of the longest-running tenured affiliated minor league teams as they have been hip-to-hip with the Chicago Cubs since 1981. Principal Park, the home to the I-Cubs, has also seen many large-scale renovations. The expectation is they will continue to see more in the upcoming years as they follow stipulations set forth by Major League Baseball and MiLB stadium standards.

Iowa is one of the places to have retained their team through the big shakeup in 2020, which dissolved a significant portion of minor league squads as well as a couple of full levels of pro ball. A move such as this should not affect access to the I-Cubs, and they should continue to stay at Principal Park for the foreseeable future.

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It seems like such a significant investment and promises to improve upon Minor League Baseball, and the hope of new ownership brings a renewed spirit to the game. It is an exciting time for the Cubs’ highest-level affiliate, and the hope remains that the base will continue to grow and improve. Only time will tell.