PARADE MAGAZINE / MICHAEL OSACKY
The summer is in full swing, and many parents are looking for fun and exciting experiences to keep their kids engaged and entertained! Rollercoasters, amusement parks, water slides, and local festivals are the tried-and-true summer entertainment venues. And of course, let’s not forget there’s no shortage of Major League Baseball games to attend in the Midwest! Let me introduce you to the shining diamond of South Bend Indiana: Four Winds Field. The South Bend Cubs are the Single A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Admission prices for minor league baseball games are more affordable than the major league counterpart, and the rejuvenated park includes attractions which are specifically designed for families with children.
The South Bend Cubs underwent a variety of changes during the off-season. The franchise used to be the part of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, but being so close to Chicago and having the strong brand affinity (Cubs), the organization became part of the Chicago Cubs. The genius of the field’s rejuvenation includes:
- The synthetic grass has been removed. The players are now playing on natural turf. Roger Bossard, head groundskeeper for the White Sox, was brought on as a consultant to make sure the look, feel, and overall aesthetic simulates big league fields!
- The Performance Center was deliberately placed in right field. You would be hard-pressed to find a better facility in major or minor league baseball…and you certainly won’t find better batting cages. The batting cages were built for players and fans alike; fans are able to feel what it’s like to play in a state-of-the-art facility!
Andrew Berlin, owner of the team, is a true living visionary, and invited me to take a tour his absolute gem of a park. It became immediately obvious that Mr. Berlin has dedicated his life to making sure the customer and employees are always happy. Mr. Berlin congratulated everybody from the bathroom attendants to the food service provider to the manager of the batting cages, as this day was very special; July 3rd 2015 set an attendance record of 8,000 attendees. He wanted to share the good fortune with everyone who helped make his vision possible.
As we continued around the park, fans approached the affable Berlin and thanked him. As I quickly found out, the renovations at the ballpark extend far outside the outfield foul poles; when Berlin purchased the team in 2011, the entire economy in South Bend was on a downturn. The city didn’t have much to look forward to in the evenings and weekends, until Four Winds Fields underwent its big change. One fan told me that Mr. Berlin is “Superman,” because the resulting job creation got the local economy booming and uplifted the entire community.
As my tour came to a close, fireworks were blasting off into the moonlit sky. It was almost as if Indiana was paying homage to Mr. Andrew Berlin, baseball visionary, and the incredible park he’s created.