After 30 years, the Twins' local minor league affiliate is switching hands.
The founders of the St. Paul Saints — in existence in its current form since 1993 — are selling the team to Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns more than a dozen other minor league teams around the country.
"The decision to sell was a difficult and emotional one for me," Saints CEO and co-owner Marv Goldklang said in a news release Wednesday. But he assured fans the new ownership group is "committed both to further expansion of the team's brand and additional ways in which our ballpark can be utilized for the benefit of the community."
The parties did not disclose financial terms.
Goldklang, a minority owner of the New York Yankees, founded the Saints with Mike Veeck and Bill Murray (of "Caddyshack" fame) and grew the team into a city institution and a minor-league success story. Murray even wore a Saints cap in the movie "Space Jam" and made random appearances at games, sometimes even to check tickets.
The Saints are entering their third season as the Class AAA affiliate of the Twins, having previously spent nearly 30 years in the independent Northern League.
Since moving to CHS Field in downtown St. Paul in 2015, the team said it has "led all of baseball in percentage of attendance to capacity, averaging more than 107%." The Saints are known for creating a fun atmosphere and putting on wacky promotions to draw crowds.
Diamond Baseball Holdings formed in 2021 and owns 13 minor league affiliates around the country, including the Iowa Cubs, a Class AAA affiliate for the Chicago Cubs, and the Twins' Class AA affiliate Wichita Wind Surge. Technology-focused private equity firm Silver Lake owns the company, which originally spun off from entertainment holding company Endeavor.
"They believe in focusing on the hyper-local. They bought these teams with the intention of keeping things local," Saints spokesman Sean Aronson said.
Fans should not notice a difference walking through the gate when the season kicks off, he said.
Diamond Baseball Holdings CEO Peter Freund said the company's mission is to "continue supporting the incredible Saints staff, players, fans and entire St. Paul community."
"The Saints are an iconic franchise, unquestionably one of the jewels of minor league baseball," Freund said in Wednesday's news release, "and the club's incredible legacy cannot be understated in St. Paul."
Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter said that, based on conversations around the league, he's confident the new owners "will be a great steward of what's been created here in St. Paul."
"The reputation Diamond has is sound," St. Peter said. "They understand the gem they are acquiring and how connected the Saints are to this community."
He added the teams' proximity — just a short 10-mile, 15-minute drive down Interstate 94 to downtown Minneapolis' Target Field — creates a player development partnership that "is one-of-a-kind in baseball." Most teams have to fly call-ups around the country on short notice to join the big-league team at home.
Major League Baseball still has to approve the sale, expected to close "promptly," according to the release. Saints General Manager Derek Sharrer and the rest of the front office should remain in place for the team's 31st season, which begins March 31.