St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that, pending full approval from the Pacific Coast League, they have reached an agreement to sell a majority interest in the team’s Triple-A Affiliate Memphis Redbirds to Peter B. Freund, the Principal Owner of Trinity Baseball Holdings. The agreement calls for the parties to close the transaction by April 1, 2016.
“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.”
Craig Unger, the General Manager of the Memphis Redbirds since April 2014, will be promoted to President and General Manager as part of the transaction to ensure a seamless transition to the new operating company.
“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.”
While the financial terms of the sale were not disclosed, DeWitt emphasized that the St. Louis Cardinals will retain a minority stake in the Memphis Redbirds and the team will continue to be the Cardinals Triple-A Affiliate.
The sale of the controlling interest in the Redbirds to Freund enhances the financial foundation of the Memphis Redbirds, while also strengthening the daily management of the club by bringing in a primary owner who has a successful track record in minor league baseball operations.
Freund, a minority owner of the New York Yankees, has nearly a decade of experience in minor league baseball ownership and operations. Freund is the principal owner of the Williamsport Crosscutters, a Class-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies in the New York-Penn League, and he is also a co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League, a Class-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Freund currently serves as President of Trinity Packaging Corporation, a privately held plastics manufacturer headquartered in Armonk, NY. He is the fourth generation in his family's business, which began as a paper company in 1917 and now specializes in flexible films for a variety of industries including consumer & home goods, lawn & garden products and packaged food. A lifelong baseball fan, Freund has not missed an Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in 36 years.
Brian Walton’s take
This comes as a surprise since the Cardinals had bought the franchise just two years ago. That followed years of financial challenges faced by local ownership that put the club in the hands of its bondholder. Perhaps the Cardinals have stabilized the situation such that the Redbirds are now appealing to outside owners.
From a baseball operations perspective, the ownership change means nothing. The Cardinals organization will continue to provide players and coaches for the on-field product in Memphis with the City of Memphis presumably continuing to own AutoZone Park.
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