On November 11, 2011, the unemployment rate was nearly 10% in our community. Hardly anyone was investing in downtown South Bend. The exception? A gentleman from Chicago who saw something that others had forgotten. That this is a diverse town, with a work ethic and enthusiasm for success that's rarely seen elsewhere.
In fact, Andrew T. Berlin was so impressed by what he saw here that he purchased the local minor league baseball team, then poured millions of his own money into improving the city-owned ballpark they played in.
At a press conference on that 11th day of November 2011, Berlin made some impossible promises to the citizens of South Bend. The hardest to believe?
That he'd bring hundreds of thousands of people back downtown for the first time in years.
While other large businesses were avoiding downtown, Berlin would do the opposite. He was all in.
The stadium was improved with the help of local skilled labor. And further improvements have continued year-after-year.
Since that November day, the team has created good paying jobs, supported local charities when they needed it most, and invested in our most promising future leaders with college scholarships to continue their education.
None of it possible without you. Andrew Berlin knows it. The team knows it. And we're grateful.
So when you and your friends helped set a new historic attendance record at Four Winds Field just a few days ago, it proved once again that baseball is more than just a game. It brings us together, leaves lasting memories, and says something about the spirit of the people who live here.
Anything's possible in downtown South Bend. Anything.
That's why Berlin is now putting $22 million more into the first mixed-use residential housing of its kind in decades. By this time next year, The Ivy at Berlin Place will be this region's version of Wrigleyville in Chicago.
But it's more than just a new project. The Ivy at Berlin Place is another vote of confidence in the city and people who live here. It's a vote of confidence in other businesses and government leaders who get things done. And it's a vote of confidence in you.
After all, you've helped make South Bend Cubs games the perfect place to show potential new investors what this town is made of. You've made it a favorite place
for hundreds of non-game events such as meetings, concerts and special occasions.
And now, the trend is reversed. Thousands of people are coming back. Businesses are moving in, not out. The population is growing and millions more dollars are
being invested by new and existing entrepreneurs.
So the next time someone asks you if South Bend is a good place to live or do business, send them to us. It's a great town with the best fans in the world. There's no place like it.
And it's why we're here. For you. It's why we're so successful.
Because of you.
That 'impossible' promise made on November 11, 2011? Andrew Berlin knew something the rest of us forgot. Downtown South Bend is more than a place on a map. It's an authentic example of the American spirit, tenacity and imagination.
And if baseball's more than just a game it's why the South Bend Cubs and downtown South Bend, were meant to be.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.