In the early 1980s, the popularity of minor league baseball was on the rise across the country. In 1984, several local business, community and civic leaders were interested in bringing minor league baseball to the City of South Bend. The group soon learned that the Midwest League was looking to add two expansion teams. In 1985, South Bend Mayor Roger O. Parent met with Robert and Debbie Staley from Decatur, IL. The Staleys had recently purchased an expansion team and were looking for a place to call home and South Bend was the perfect fit.
In March 1985, Mayor Parent announced that the city would build a minor league baseball stadium in Downtown South Bend, located on the edge of the Studebaker Corridor with the intent to begin playing baseball in 1986. The stadium would serve as a catalyst for economic redevelopment in the area and would be the first minor league ballpark that featured suites.
In January 1986, it was announced that a 10-year player development contract had been signed with the Chicago White Sox and the Class A Affiliate would be known as the South Bend White Sox.
The stadium financing was secured and construction began in 1986 and in August of the same year, the Staleys sold the team to Eric Margenau and Jay Action from New York.
Stadium construction was completed in April 1987 and the ballpark was named Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium. Stanley Coveleski was a Hall of Fame player who settled in South Bend after his successful baseball career came to an end in 1929. The stadium is now affectionately known as "The Cove".
The Cove was host to many amateur and local sporting events in 1987 and the South Bend White Sox began play in 1988.
In 1990, Alan Levin assumed ownership of the team. In 1994, the team contemplated a name change and settled on the South Bend Silver Hawks as a tribute to the Studebaker Silver Hawk automobile that was once manufactured across the street from the stadium.
The player development contract with the South Bend White Sox expired after the 1996 season and the South Bend Silver Hawks announced a new affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which continues to this day.
In 2005, the City of South Bend was faced with the possibility of losing the South Bend Silver Hawks amid rumors that the team would be purchased by another out of town owner and relocated to Marion, IL. However, the intent of the Midwest League and the City of South Bend was to keep baseball in South Bend and the deal was declined.
Joe Kernan, former Mayor of South Bend, Lt. Governor and Governor of the State of Indiana announced his intention to purchase the team. On September 16, 2006, Kernan announced that the sale of the South Bend Silver Hawks was finalized; the team would remain in South Bend and continue to be affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The South Bend Silver Hawks celebrated the 20th Anniversary Season in 2007 and welcomed the 4 Millionth Fan to The Cove.
In 2010, due to the wear and tear of a ballpark for 25 years, Coveleski Stadium was in desperate need of improvements and upgrades. With the stadium being a city-owned facility, Mayor Steve Luecke and the South Bend Redevelopment Commission proposed a 10.2 million dollar renovation that would help add immenities to the ballpark and make it more inviting. The South Bend Common Council rejected a portion of the funding in which the city would do a 7 million dollar makeover to the Cove. Demolition and contruction would start in the fall of 2010 that would include a new picnic garden, renovated suites, new videoboard, a 360 degree concourse and a centerfield entrance that connected Coveleski Stadium to downtown South Bend.
In November of 2011, the Silver Hawks were bought by Andrew T. Berlin, owner of the Chicago-based company Berlin Packaging, and investor in the Chicago White Sox organization. Upon his purchase of the team, Berlin signed a 20 year lease with the City of South Bend to keep the Silver Hawks at Coveleski Stadium.
Berlin also initiated a new phase of renovations at the Cove. $2.25 million of his own money and an additional $1.75 million to the facility has brought improvements and additions such as a splash pad, outdoor suites and a new team store located in the previously vacated synagogue located beyond left field.
In January 2012, Berlin announced that Joe Hart would be named as the new president of the Silver Hawks. Hart was named Florida State League Executive of the Year at the conclusion of the 2011 season and brings more than 15 years of baseball experience to South Bend.
The 2012 season marks the Silver Hawks' 25th year of baseball in South Bend, but under new ownership and management, is the start of a new era focused on customer service and the ultimate fan experience.
Join us this season for more than just baseball, because the Cove is "Where Everyone Comes to Play!"