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Class-A Cubs leave Kane County for South Bend

9/18/2014

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have reached a player-development agreement with South Bend, Indiana, to move their Class-A affiliate there starting next season after spending the past two years in Kane County, Illinois.

“We hate making decisions that are going to end up disappointing people, but we have to make them in the best interests of our prospects,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Thursday. “South Bend’s renovations offer a facility that we feel will make a profound difference for our prospects.”

Epstein had high praise for Kane County, but called moving to South Bend a “unique opportunity.” Recently, Kane County announced intended improvements to its facility in hopes of keeping the Cubs. It wasn’t enough.

“One area where we don’t mess around is in player development,” Epstein said. “Our success will be impacted in large part to how well we develop our young players.”

The Cubs had already announced that they would be moving two other minor league affiliates, with their High-A Florida team switching from Daytona to Myrtle Beach earlier this week. Their short-season A team could move from Boise, Idaho, as well. Epstein understands the disappointment that comes with leaving local fan bases.

“I don’t think in this industry you can avoid looking like bad guys,” he said. “You just have to roll with it and make sure you are making decisions for the right reasons.”

The upgrades in the facilities were the driving forces in each of these moves. The Cubs feel their player development is an obvious key to a rebuilding team. They took advantage of an opportunity in Indiana.

“We are excited to partner with South Bend and look forward to a productive relationship with the team, as well as the entire South Bend community,” Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said in a statement earlier in the day. “Making the decision to switch minor-league affiliates is never an easy one, but we are confident that this agreement will further strengthen our farm system.”

A news conference to unveil a new name, logo and uniform will be held next Thursday in South Bend. The team was previously affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was known as the Silver Hawks. The Cubs' agreement runs through the 2018 season.