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The St. Louis Cardinals have extended their player development contract with new Memphis Redbirds owner Peter Freund

The St. Louis Cardinals have extended their player development contract through 2020 with new Memphis Redbirds owner Peter Freund.

Memphis Redbirds press release

Peter B. Freund is now the Principal Owner of the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, after an agreement to buy a majority interest in the team from the Cardinals officially closed.

The Cardinals will retain a minority stake in the Redbirds. 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 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.

"I cannot wait to get to work and am looking very forward to connecting with Redbirds fans and the entire Memphis community," Freund said.

The Redbirds and the Cardinals also announced an extension to the Player Development Contract, which now runs through the 2020 season. The Redbirds have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Cardinals since the 1998 season.

“Memphis is a great baseball city, and AutoZone Park is one of the premiere ballparks in the game,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. “We are thrilled that our players will continue to compete in this beautiful stadium and in front of these fans.”

The nearly two-decade long partnership between Memphis and St. Louis saw the opening of AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis in 2000, which is annually listed among professional baseball’s best and has been called “one of American’s 10 Best Ballpark Vacation Destinations.” AutoZone Park will host the 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 20 and hosted the 2003 Triple-A All-Star Game.

Four Pacific Coast League championship teams have played in Memphis, most recently in 2014, and major league stars who have played in Memphis include Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright.

“This is an exciting new chapter for the Redbirds,” Redbirds President and General Manager Craig Unger said. “I cannot wait to begin working with Peter and am thrilled that Memphis sports fans will continue to be able to cheer on the future stars of the St. Louis Cardinals for years to come.”

Freund Bio

Peter B. Freund is a minority owner of the New York Yankees and President of both Trinity Packaging Corporation and Trinity Baseball Holdings. Trinity Packaging is a privately held plastics manufacturer headquartered in Armonk, New York, and Peter is the fourth generation in his family's business, which began as a paper company in 1917. Trinity's products are sold globally and include flexible films for a variety of industries including consumer and home goods, lawn and garden, dry foods and snacks, pet care and all other industrially packaged items.

Trinity Baseball Holdings owns a portfolio of affiliated minor league baseball teams including the Memphis Redbirds, the Charleston RiverDogs and the Williamsport Crosscutters. The Redbirds are the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in the Pacific Coast League and play at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tennessee. The RiverDogs are the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees in the South Atlantic League and play at Joseph P. Riley Park in Charleston, South Carolina. The Crosscutters are the Class-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies in the New York-Penn League and play at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Freund graduated from the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Freund is a trustee of the Rippowam Cisqua School, a coeducational independent day school for grades pre-kindergarten through nine, which he also attended. He serves as the President of the Redbirds Community Fund, an organization which supports the Memphis RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) along with numerous community outreach initiatives. Freund resides in Bedford, New York, and Big Sky, Montana, with his wife Mimi and their twin daughters.

Brian Walton's take

It seems that the extension of the Player Development Contract, which binds the Cardinals to the Memphis franchise, was part of the original deal. But there was no advantage to announcing it until the approval of Freund as principal owner was complete.

In hindsight, it appears the Cardinals were more willing to help Memphis get out of its long-term financial mess than to actually run the Redbirds club long-term. Still, their efforts in helping get the team and ballpark out of foreclosure and in the operating clear and in making needed investments to the facility were noble and well-placed.

Freund has a long track record in baseball ownership and from all appearances, is a good fit for the Redbirds. He and his new team have some work to do to get fans back in the ball park after attendance slid to last in the Pacific Coast League in 2015.

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