And the affiliation shuffle comes to an end.
BREAKING: Eugene Emerald sign 2-year deal as affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. End 14-year relationship with San Diego.— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG) September 19, 2014
As expected, the Cubs signed a two-year deal with the Northwest League team the Eugene Emeralds, leaving Boise after 14 seasons. Ironically, this is a homecoming for the Cubs who called Eugene their home in the Northwest League in 1999 and 2000 before leaving for Boise.
The reason for this move is simple. Eugene build a top-notch stadium in 2010, right next to the Oregon Ducks' Autzen Stadium. You can read about PK Park here and I can assure you that it is much nicer than Memorial Stadium in Boise, which was built in 1989. Additionally, the Emeralds have two road trips under two hours, to Salem-Keizer and Hillsboro. The shortest bus trip for the Boise Hawks was over four and a half hours to Tri-City.
It does mean that the Cubs stay in the Northwest League, so they will continue to have a presence on the West Coast. Plus, Eugene is in the same four-team division as the Boise Hawks, so fans in the Treasure Valley (or ones that visit a lot, like me) will still be able to see Cubs farm hands on regular basis.
Boise was good to the Cubs with a very strong supporters group and an excellent network of host families for the players. The Cubs stuck around as long as they did in hopes that they could get a new stadium built. But with plans for a stadium stalled and with no hope of new facilities in the near future, the Cubs could no longer put up with the outdated stadium.
The Rockies are moving into Boise, so at least they are getting a team with some regional connection. The Padres, who moved into Eugene when the Cubs left in 2001, are heading to the Rockies former home in Tri-City.
As I said, this ends the affiliation shuffle. The Cubs moved all three of their lower affiliates, which was as radical a shift as possible. The last time the Cubs changed three affiliates in the same year was before the 1985 season.