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BANDITS TO HOST PRE-SEASON EXHIBITION AGAINST DOUBLE-A SPRINGFIELD01/13/2009 12:16 PM ET
By Ben Chiswick / Quad Cities River Bandits
Since becoming an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, the Quad Cities have been a crucial stop on the road to Busch Stadium. The relationship between the two organizations has only strengthened in recent years, as the River Bandits strive to offer their fans an opportunity to benefit from an affiliation with one of the most tradition-rich franchises in all of sports.
On Tuesday, the River Bandits made a major announcement signifying a new era in the River Bandits-Cardinals relationship. On April 5, 2009, Quad Cities will host the Double-A Springfield Cardinals at Modern Woodmen Park in what will be the first exhibition game against a Double-A team in the history of Quad Cities baseball.
"This is an event we have been working on for months, and we are so thrilled to announce that Double-A ball is coming to the Quad Cities," said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. "Working with the Cardinals has been both a joy and a privilege, and we are ecstatic to be able to offer our fans such a tremendous event to kick off the 2009 season. It's also going to be a lot of fun watching the 2009 River Bandits play a Springfield team that will likely be almost entirely made up of former Quad Cities stars on their way to the big leagues."
John Vuch, the Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations, also expressed excitement about bringing the exhibition game to the Quad Cities.
"As the first full-season club for the majority of our players, the River Bandits are a vital part of the Cardinals' player development system," said Vuch. "All of us with the Cardinals are thrilled to be able to make this game happen as a way to show our appreciation for the great support we've received from the River Bandits fans and management. I can't think of a better way to kick off what shapes up to be an exciting 2009 season in the Quad Cities!"
The first pitch for the Quad Cities-Springfield game will be at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, four days before the River Bandits regular season opener in Wisconsin and eight days before they begin their home schedule at Modern Woodmen Park on April 13. Tickets to the exhibition game will be priced the same as a regular season contest, ranging from $12 for Club Seats to $5 for Berm tickets. All group areas, including the Jumer's Casino & Hotel Hot Tub Deck, the Party Plaza, the Tiki Bed, the Dugout Suite and the Sky Deck, will be available for those interested in booking group outings.
"We're looking forward to having our fans in the Quad Cities get the opportunity to see our Double-A club, as well as having the chance for them to get a sneak preview of our 2009 River Bandits team prior to the start of the regular season," added Vuch. "While the exact composition of the rosters won't be finalized until late March, it's very likely that much of the Springfield club will be comprised of players who previously played in Quad Cities."
"We're excited to participate and glad that we can help to bring this historic event to the River Bandits' fans," said Matt Gifford, Vice President and General Manager of the Springfield Cardinals. "There's a lot of great energy in the Quad Cities surrounding Cardinals' baseball and we're just thrilled to be a part of it."
Although the rosters of the two clubs are unknown at this time, the speculation is that the River Bandits will have one of their strongest teams in years. The Cardinals affiliates at the two levels below Quad Cities were both loaded with talent last season, and the best players from the Batavia Muckdogs - who won the New York-Penn League title - and the Johnson City Cardinals - who finished second in their division - are likely to open the 2009 campaign with the River Bandits.
The Springfield squad is also expected to be talent-laden, as it has been in each of the past few seasons. After making it to the Texas League Championship Series in 2007 and boasting their division's best overall record in 2008, the Missouri-based franchise could have a roster full of such former Quad Cities stars and top Cardinals prospects as Brett Wallace, Daryl Jones, Tyler Herron and Adam Ottavino.
"This is going to be an excellent way to open the 2009 season," said River Bandits Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman. "Fans will have the opportunity to see guys that are just a phone call away from the big leagues, and nearly all of them will have come through the Quad Cities in the last couple of years. This event is a product of a fantastic relationship with our parent club, and it could not have happened without the cooperation of great people like John Vuch in St. Louis and Matt Gifford in Springfield."
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Under new ownership and management in 2008, the Quad Cities River Bandits topped 207,000 fans for only the sixth time in team history and the first time in 12 years. Having recently completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of the franchise, the club is staying busy over the off-season as a popular venue for Christmas parties and other special events. With a renewed dedication to fans, sponsors and the Quad Cities community, the return of the River Bandits has brought a resurgence of support for the team. Banditwear, season tickets and mini-plans are on sale for the 2009 season by calling (563) 3-BANDIT or heading to www.RiverBandits.com. But hurry - good seats are going fast!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.