One-on-one with new Silver Hawks owner

Now that the South Bend Silver Hawks have a buyer, you probably want to know more about the man who bought the team and his plans to "play ball" in South Bend.

Maureen McFadden sat down for a one on one conversation with the new owner prior to Wednesday's announcement.

Andrew Berlin is making a 20 year commitment to the Cove and is paying cash, hoping to help revive downtown South Bend.

Berlin, a Chicago businessman, has fond memories of growing up in Chicago and spending many nights at Sox Park with his dad.

Now the part owner of the Chicago White Sox has gone from investor to owner.

"South Bend is a magnificent place for baseball," Berlin said. "I'm from Chicago. My parents live in Lakeside, Michigan. I have five children. We're a family that's very much invested in baseball."

Berlin continued, "Joe Kernan and I have a mutual friend. I met Joe last May. My interest at that time was simply being an investor, an investor in the team just like I was an investor in the White Sox, but as we got to know each other and I saw the opportunity, got to know South Bend even better, I saw a great opportunity to be a great owner and not just an investor."

And despite the nay-sayers who have balked at recent improvements at the Cove because of low attendance, he says those changes are what sold him.

"The Cove is an asset that belongs to the city, and like many assets, often needs a little bit more investment to keep the value of that asset up ... I wouldn't be here without Joe's leadership and without the city having made the investments in the field," Berlin said.

And he's paying cash. "I'm not incurring any debt," he said. "I think the Cove is going to be a great anchor for redevelopment and bringing more traffic and more people and more development to downtown South Bend ... It's a great attraction today. I just think it could be better."

Berlin says he's very satisfied with the affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks and says he's committed to keeping the Silver Hawks here. "It's my intention that if a deal goes forward and the city is a part of this ... I want to extend the lease for at least a couple of decades."

While he doesn't foresee that relationship changing, he says he can't guarantee it.

"Who's to say?" Berlin said. "It's not going to be just our choice. It will be the choice of other teams as well, but right now there is no plans to change the affiliation. But something may come up in the future."

But he does guarantee one thing. "It will be a minor league baseball team affiliated with major league baseball ..."

It's a guarantee this father of five, whose parents still live in nearby Michigan, hopes will revitalize the downtown and give families an affordable night out like he remembers as a child.

"These are tough times right now," Berlin admitted. "It's not our attention to put up obstacles to watch baseball. It's really to remove those obstacles and have fun doing so."

On NewsCenter 16 at 11, Maureen McFadden will continue the one-on-one with Berlin, including his plans for the Cove and how Cal Ripken figures into the changes in downtown South Bend.

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