Chiefs reach agreement to become Cardinal affilliate

By WEEK Producer

September 19, 2012 Updated Sep 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Just like Lou Brock and Bruce Sutter, the Peoria Chiefs are switching from the Cubs to the Cardinals.

Chiefs' president Rocky Vonachen announced the new 4-year agreement Wednesday morning that will make Peoria the Redbirds' Midwest League affiliate for the second time.

And he says so far, the response has been positive.

"We're already selling tickets," said Vonachen. "We've had some calls this morning, we've had people on Twitter and Facebook asking how can we get season tickets. So far we're off to a great start."

Vonachen called it the best possible outcome following the Cubs' decision to leave Peoria and move their Midwest League operation to Kane County.

In the mayor's office, diehard Cardinal fan Jim Ardis was thrilled with the news and glad another team local fans root for will be setting its roots down here.

"I think it's great for the community," Ardis said. "If you can't have one team or the other it would be bad."

Of course, there are plenty of fans who will miss the Cubs' Peoria presence.

"Because I like the Cubs, I try to go watch the affiliates and do the things that are Cub-oriented. But it's the Chiefs and we live here so we'll still go to the games," said Cubs fan Ken Nash.

Does the team's affiliation make a difference? It does to Cardinals fan Sue Rosenak, who watched Albert Pujols play for the Chiefs back in 2000.

"Yes it makes a difference because I'm a Cardinals fan and its just a lead up to the organization and that's a good thing," Rosenak said.

Next Tuesday, the Chiefs will host a press conference where Cardinals' general manager John Mozielak will sign the paperwork that makes the deal official. The event will be open to the public.

Local Cardinal fans will be quick to point out that the Chiefs won their only Midwest championship as a Cardinals farm team 10 years ago. Cards' all-star catcher Yadier Molina was a member of that team.

Before that Albert Pujols, Rick Ankiel and Placido Polanco played in Peoria.

So in a way, the organization is simply coming home.

Vonachen says the teams logo won't change, but there will be more red in the team's uniform.