Peoria Chiefs open the season as a Cardinals affiliate

By WEEK Producer

April 4, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 4:57 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Peoria Chiefs played their season opener Thursday night and for the first time since 2005 the team was not a Chicago Cubs affiliate.

Instead, they have aligned themselves with the Cardinals.

Reporter Marc Strauss was live at the ballpark as the Chiefs' moved into a new era.

When the Cubs announced they were leaving Peoria for Kane County, the Chiefs hit a home run and hooked up with one other team people around here care about the Cardinals.

St. Louis was looking for a new home for its Midwest League affiliate after its agreement with the Quad Cities expired. The two sides worked out a deal and Thursday night, instead of Cubbie blue on their uniforms, the Chiefs were drenched in Cardinal red.

Of course, the Chiefs were affiliated with the Cardinals once before. Players like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina got their starts in Peoria.

Chiefs' president Rocky Vonachen says it couldn't have worked out better.

"Most minor league teams don't have that luxury of having an affiliate where you also have a great fan base of that affiliate," said Vonachen. "You look at Quad Cities for example, they have the Houston Astros. There's probably not a lot of Houston Astros fans in Davenport, Iowa, or in that area. So we're very fortunate. Either the Cubs or Cardinals are great for us and we're fortunate to have had both of them here."

Even better, Baseball America recently named the Cardinals' farm system the best in baseball. So there should be some pretty good players coming to Peoria.