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I’ve been sitting on some information for a few months now, waiting for the right time to share. Candidly, I wasn’t really sure when the “right” time was going to be – whether it was when I got a little more information, or when the Minor League seasons rolled around, I wasn’t confident. I just knew that, at some point, I was going to have to say something. And, given the sensitive nature of the story, I wasn’t terribly excited about sharing it.

Thankfully (for me), a South Bend Tribune article has opened the door. In short, there’s a chance that the Peoria Chiefs will soon not be the Cubs’ A-ball team anymore:

[South Bend Silver Hawks Owner Andrew] Berlin, who lives in Chicago and is a limited partner in the major league White Sox, said he was exploring the idea of an affiliation change for the Silver Hawks.

Currently, the South Bend team is affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks ….

But Berlin said affiliating the Silver Hawks with a regional major league team would be sure to help South Bend’s attendance.

One scenario he outlined was that the Peoria Chiefs team – which plays in the Midwest League with the Silver Hawks and is part of the Cubs’ farm system – is due for a new contract with the Cubs this August. The Silver Hawks’ contract with the Diamondbacks is due at the same time.

“The stars seem to be aligning a little bit,” Berlin said.

I’ve heard from a well-placed source in South Bend that the affiliation change is a “very real” possibility. Berlin wants to make it happen, for obvious reasons (the South Bend team would draw quite a bit better if it were a Cubs affiliate, rather than a Diamondbacks one).

I’ve also heard (and read) that the Peoria Chiefs have had a rough few of years financially, which could make holding onto their Cubs affiliation difficult. On the other hand, it could be politically sticky for the Cubs to take an affiliate out of the state at the same time they’re trying to get stadium funding from Illinois and Chicago.

The Chiefs have been affiliated with the Cubs for 17 of the last 26 seasons, including the last seven, so I think you can appreciate why it would be a pretty sad transition for a number of people if the Cubs’ affiliation ended there.

  • AP

    I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. White Sox guys affiliating with our minor league system! Next they’ll be trying to walk and chew gum; where will it end!

  • TT

    Was really hoping that this was going to be about Kane County. Oh well.

    BTW, the Cubs weren’t affiliated with Peoria from 1999-2004, their Midwest affiliate was the Lansing Lugnuts.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, yeah, that wasn’t clear. I’ve updated to clarify about those five years.

  • Spencer

    I live in Mishawaka, which is a “suburb” of South Bend, so I get the Tribune and hear all the newsy stuff. This talk has been swelling for a while, and it seems like something that might really happen. Brett, you’re absolutely right in saying that the Silverhawks would draw more if it was a Cubs affiliate; SB is only two hours away from Chicago. It’s a nice ballpark, they have good promos, and do a lot of good stuff for the city. Would love to see this.

    • Dave H

      The Cove is great place to see a game. I saw the first game there. I purchased my first beer there. If they got the Cubs there, I’d be going home more often. The owner may have Sox ties but at least he is a smart savy businessman.

    • Packman711

      I too am originally from south bend (SBI). Attendance would go way, way up if they were a Cubs affiliate.

  • Deer

    What is in it for the Cubs to move from Peoria to South Bend? I kinda like having a Cubs affiliate downstate, a lot more Cubs fans there than South Bend.

    • Spencer

      I can’t speak to how many Cubs fans are in Peoria because I’ve never been there, but I can tell you that there are bunches and bunches of Cubs fans in South Bend.

  • Central IL native

    I was born in Peoria and grew up across the river in Pekin. I also grew up going to Peoria Chiefs games and seeing stars like Mark Grace go on to the majors. The Cubs were affiliated with the Chiefs prior to 1994 as well. They were back in the 1980s too. I would hate to see the Cubs leave the Peoria area. For awhile the Cardinals were affiliated and everyone hated it. When the Cubs came back it was great. South Bend? White Sox? WTF?

  • SonPorter

    Echoing Spencer, there are a ton of Cubs fans over in South Bend and the surrounding area, which is connected to Chicago by the South Shore line and the toll road. A South Bend to Chicago commute for a Cubs game is quite easy and, as a South Bend native, I would love to see Cubs prospects and the occasional rehabbing big leaguer on a regular basis here.

    • Deer

      I get that proximity to where you live is a big factor in an opinion, but I think it’s important to have a Cubs affiliate in what otherwise is more Cardinal territory than Cubs. Pretty decent population and loyal fans in Peoria/Bloomington/Springfield/Champaign. I’m still confused what the upside is to a move.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I don’t know any specifics, so I can only speculate about the logical answer to almost all questions of motivation: money. I just don’t know, ultimately.

      • chris margetis

        I grew up in Peoria. It certainly isn’t “more” Cardinal territory, but it’s pretty darn close to 50/50. The other interesting part is, the years the Chiefs weren’t affilitated with the Cubs, they were the Cardinals farm team. I can’t see the Chiefs ever drawing without one of those teams being their parent club. Plus, Pete Vonachan, owner of the Chiefs, was the best friend of one Harry Carray, which gave him major tug with the Cubs. Maybe that’s run out with the Ricketts however.

      • butlerdawgs

        It could just be that South Bend does not think Arizona is putting a good product on the field for them to be successful. Chicago is an obvious choice because of proximity and fan base in South Bend. If they feel that the Cubs can put a better product on the field and make them more successful, why wouldn’t they make a run at them? I feel like most people are looking at this the other way i.e. the Cubs want to move there when in reality South Bend wants them to move there for obvious reasons.

  • bprussell

    You’ve got your Chiefs history a bit wrong. They were a Cubs affiliate from 85-94, then a Cards affiliate from 95-2004, then a Cubs affiliate since then. Pujols came up through there, in fact.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Peoria_Chiefs

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Crazy. I had it stuck in my head for years that it was Peoria since 1994, with a few years in the middle where they were in Lansing. Wonder where I got that? In any event, I’ve updated the post, and my memory bank. Thanks.

      • WGNstatic

        Ahh yes the glorious lugnut years…

        It did strike me as odd that the Cubs had a Midwest league team in Lansing. I count 7 MWL teams in the “Cubs zone” – Fort Wayne, South Bend, Quad Cities, Kane Co., Beloit, Peoria, and Burlington.

  • Brian

    Will the parent clubs, Cubs\Diamondbacks have any say in this, or is it a bidding situation?

  • T Wags

    This would be awesome! I’m 45 minutes away from south bend and I would definitely come see them play there!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    The Cubs have a decent facility in Peoria and they sell tickets reasonably well for a Low-A franchise, but affiliation changes do happen.  I’d hate to see the historical connection between the Chiefs and the Cubs broken, but those things do happen.

    • Brian

      So, this guy from SB can basically say screw the Diamondbacks, because I want the Cubs, which also, says screw you Peoria? Or is it much simpler?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I think the guy in SB will have to offer the Cubs a compelling reason to move, and his own profit margins won’t cut it.  The Cubs might make a little more money in SB than Peoria, but I doubt those dollars alone would get it done either.

        If the Cubs make the move, I suspect it means the Cubs feel the facilities in SB are better (or will be better) than the facilities in Peoria.  From the Cubs perspective, the goal of the minors is to develop players, not turn a profit.  Any significant changes will almost certainly be made with player development improvements in mind.

        I can see some advantages to having the Low A club just down the road from the major league club, but then, Peoria is hardly far away.  At the same time, I can also see some downsides to bringing a bunch of 18 and 19 year old guys who may be living away from home for the first extended period and dropping them on the doorstep of Chicago as opposed to a much smaller town like Peoria.  That won’t be a significant factor in the decision, I’m sure, but I imagine it will enter the conversation at some level.

      • WGNstatic

        I doubt the Diamondbacks would particularly care either way. Much like the Cubs didn’t care much when the AA team switched from West Tenn to Tenn.

        For Peoria though… that would hurt, though they could try to lure the Cards back to town.

  • Ron Swanson

    Wow, this would be great for me too. The Silverhawks are my “hometown” minor league team and I already attend 5-6 games every summer. I would definitely increase that total if I could be watching Cubs prospects.

    As someone else mentioned, the Silverhawks were born as the South Bend White Sox and while affilitate with the Sox, attendence was definitely better than it has been in recent years. When a minor league team is located close geographically to the big club, they get more injury rehabs and the like which are huge draws. That used to happen in South Bend but of course does not now with the D-Backs.

  • Chris S

    BOOO.. Then I can’t see them play the Kernels here in Cedar Rapids!

    • Ron Swanson

      Chris, the Silverhawks also visit Cedar Rapids each year.

      • Mark Haley

        No, they don’t. They visit every other year.

  • Wisconsin Cub Fan

    I’ve met Andrew Berlin and know him to be generous and genuine both personally and professionally. His ownership would be an asset to the Cubs regardless of his partial ownership of the Sox. Rhetorically, who wouldn’t love an opportunity to see a heavily talented young Cubs team. (It would be smart to want them (South Bend) and smart to keep them (Peoria).

  • Richard Nose

    My dumb ass panicked for less than a second thinking players would change organizations, then I actually read what was going on. Of course, completely absurd and I swear it was only for less than a second and I wasn’t thinking clearly! But then I read the comments and saw Pujols came through Peoria before they changed affiliation and then I said “Ohmagod, what if…!!!”

  • KidCubbie

    Completely off subject but has anyone heard anything new on Jorge Soler? Has he declared residency yet? This is the last big piece to this offseason and i just want to be over with already. *Fingers crossed*

  • Big Joe

    I got to the Silver Hawks game every Sunday afternoon. I live in Elkhart, and can park, and be in my seat at “The Cove” in about 15 minutes. It’s a great time. They draw decent in the mid-summer months, but struggle in the bookends of the season. South Bend is roughly 80 miles easy of Chicago, so early season wheather is a factor. I would love to see the Cubs come to my area.

  • David

    I live in the South Bend area, and typically make it to just a couple of games a year, preferably when the Chiefs are in town. I would seriously consider season tix if they changed to a Cubs affiliate. At the least, I would be there a heckuva lot more than I am now. Last year, Peoria never came to South Bend, which I thought was odd.

  • Dan

    I also live in South Bend. We goto just a handful of games a year and those tend to be when the Chiefs are in town. I would be all over Hawks tickets if this goes through!

  • MichCubFan

    Swwweeeet….the Cove is only a half hour from my house!

  • Eric S

    Not only that, but it would also sour the relationship the Cubs have built with the Von Achen family all these years. Pete and Harry were really good friends and that’s a relationship as good as it gets between owners at different levels. It would be very sad if that relationship soured.

  • Grant Jones

    Kane County also will be freed up after this season…

    • Alex

      If the Chiefs move to Kane County, that would be the best. I know I would go out to at least 10 to 15 games.

      • Grant Jones

        I am the bat boy for the KC Cougars, so i would love fot that to happen!

  • South Bend Cub Fan

    Obviously I would love the move I go there and cheer against the silverhawks When they would play Peoria or Lansing it was always awkward . For Me I hope it happens I have wanted this since South Bend acguired a team. But just knowing that I am about to move to Louisville for work it will probably happen Just Sayin

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Chatter on Twitter, largely from the Cheif’s account, is that the Silver Hawks have renewed with the Diamondbacks through 2014.  That would point to the Cubs staying with Peoria.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Silver Hawks’ owner could have been angling for better terms all along…

  • RK

    From Peoria as well so had to check out local paper and they had the following:

    http://www.pjstar.com/blogs/capie/x1612623242/Cubs-affiliation-to-South-Bend-Not-so-fast

  • Shawn

    For selfish reasons i hope they stay in Peoria. Its only an hour and fifteen minutes from me, so I make about six games a year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      More on it tomorrow morning, but it sounds like they are indeed saying – today’s stories appear to have forced the Silver Hawks and owners’ hand, and he re-upped with the Diamondbacks.

      • MichiganGoat

        I like to think that this story is what forced the hand… And here I thought I’d be closer to the Cubs minor league, bit bummed but everything will be okay.

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  • gritsngravy

    I live in Peoria and I would be upset if the cubs went another direction with there A ball club. I enjoy taking my son to a couple of cubs games a year and alot more chiefs games. I understand that South Bend is close to Chicago but the Chiefs ownership would be stupid to not renew with the cubs. If attendance is bad in there eyes now just wait to see what it will be if the Chiefs go another direction.

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