ST. LOUIS -- Pending a Dec. 3 vote by the Memphis City Council, the Cardinals are poised to take ownership of a fourth Minor League affiliate. According to a news release issued by the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation on Friday, the Cardinals have agreed to take ownership of the Memphis Redbirds, their Triple-A club since 1998.
In addition to the Cardinals taking over the franchise, the city of Memphis will assume control of the Redbirds' home, AutoZone Park. The agreement helps the financially troubled affiliate, which defaulted on its bond payments in 2010. The transaction is expected to be closed by the end of the year but first requires approval from the city council.
Assuming the change in ownership goes through, Memphis will become the Cardinals' fourth organization-owned affiliate. The Cardinals took charge of the Springfield Cardinals in 2004 and also run the two affiliates --Palm Beach (Florida State League) and Jupiter (Gulf Coast League) -- that play out of their Jupiter (Fla.) complex.
"I always think of that as the synergy you have," general manager John Mozeliak said. "You look at a franchise like Memphis that is definitely in Cardinal country. We look at the success we've had to continue to build the Cardinals brand there. Geographically, it makes a lot of sense."
The agreement calls for Memphis to include a long-term lease agreement so that the Redbirds will remain at AutoZone Park. The release notes that the city will also provide a significant capital investment in the ballpark to add features and improve the fan experience.
"The Redbirds represent the best of Minor League baseball," Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr., said in the release. "This opens the door to countless new opportunities for our combined organization, and we are thrilled about the prospects for baseball fans in both of our great cities."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.