South Bend Cubs owner brings Major League touches to Minor League baseball
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- There are plenty of reasons to go to Four Winds Field, but this summer there will be something new - residential apartment designed to give the South Bend Cubs' neighborhood a Major League feel.
South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin can't wait for his team to take the field this season.
This summer there's a major new addition going up just outside the center field gates at Four Winds Field.
Attendance has tripled since Berlin bought the team in 2011.
"It gave us the courage to make an investment on the 4 apartment buildings that are being built behind me," Berlin said.
The development is called the Ivy at Berlin Place. The design is intended to bring a touch of the Chicago Cubs to South Bend.
"The Ivy is certainly playing on a part of Wrigley field that is beloved by every Cubs fan, the ivy on the outfield wall," Berlin said.
Berlin says it will be better than Wrigleyville.
South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart took ABC57 on a tour of the $23 million project.
"When our construction is done, when you come and leave the ball park, you're going to feel like you're walking right into the city," Hart said.
The site is crawling with construction workers rushing to get the units complete. They'll be up for rent by July - a little later than first hoped - but still in time for the second half of the baseball season.
"When the construction's completed this will actually be the entry point for fans to go up to the rooftop," Hart said.
That's another Major League amenity. People can see the games from outside the ballpark on top of neighboring buildings, just like the famous rooftops overlooking Wrigley.
Anyone, even non-Ivy restaurants can watch from the rooftop. If you buy a $35 ticket, you will get into the stadium and onto the new rooftop with an outdoor bar, restaurant and more.
"This will be a grandstand that will hold about 175 people," Hart said.
Home plate is 435 feet away, so if you come out to the balcony for a game, you may want to bring your mitt because you could wind up catching a home run ball.
That's why some special modifications are being made during construction.
"We have sound proofing throughout the building, shatterproof glass on the sliding glass doors to the balconies," Berlin said.
One casualty of the project is the stadium horn, which sounded each time the Cubs scored a run.
It will no longer be sounded in order to keep the peace with the ballpark's new neighbors, which will include Berlin. He will live part time in one of the units.
"We have the same fog horn here as Yankee Stadium. We fire off that fog horn every time we get a run, We're going to " X" the fog horn. No more fog horns," Berlin said.
The units start at $850 a month for a studio and go up to $1550 for a 2 bedroom 2 bath.
The man whose Chicago-based family made its fortune in the packaging business believes creating a mixed use package of sports, housing, shopping and entertainment will be a winner.
"We're aiming for professionals, we're aiming for people who want to be in downtown South Bend in a great apartment. They don't even necessarily have to be baseball fans, it's going to be beautiful on its own," Berlin said.
Berlin has worked hard to bring Major League touches to Minor League ball.
"If we provide them with a space that is clean and safe, interesting and innovative and delightful and surprising, they're going to buy more tickets here more often than ever before! They're going to tell their friends and families about it and our attendance is going to grow," Berlin said.
Berlin says while the apartments aren't cheap, he wants to make sure people in South Bend aren't priced right out of the ballpark.