(Bloomberg) -- South Bend, Indiana, is typically synonymous with Notre Dame football. But next week, baseball grabs the spotlight as the South Bend Redevelopment Authority sells $41.7 million in lease rental bonds to refurbish the Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium, home of the Chicago Cubs’ High-A affiliate.

The South Bend Cubs may not outdraw Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, but they did rank 39th in attendance among the nation’s 120 minor league teams, according to Ballpark Digest. Last year, that amounted to 314,583 fans, says Lou Pierce, public relations spokesperson for the South Bend Cubs.

The new bond issue, which is expected to price on May 21, will fund a second level of seating, a 20,000 square foot four-story club, an event space building and updated retail and concession areas, per the bond offering documents. The seating capacity of the stadium will increase to 7,500 from 5,000.

Minor-league baseball may still be sorting itself out after the pandemic shut down the 2020 season. Major League Baseball cut 42 teams from the minor-league system and mandated improvements at ballparks across the nation, but the attendance success of the South Bend team didn’t surprise Eric Kazatsky of Bloomberg Intelligence.

“With the rise in mega stadiums and ticket surcharges, the affordability factor of taking a family of four to a ball game has become a game of haves and have nots,” Kazatsky wrote in an email. “The affordable family entertainment niche is one that is ripe to be expanded and minor league baseball can lead that effort.”

For example, the price of a ticket at Four Winds Field for the Tuesday game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ranges between $13 and $15. At Wrigley Field, home of the big-league club, tickets for the Tuesday game versus the Atlanta Braves range from $19 for a seat in the nose-bleed section to $379 for a club box seat at field level, and $829 for a seat in the Maker’s Mark Barrel Room 28.  

The South Bend bonds are backed by taxes levied on all property in the South Bend Redevelopment District and rated AA with a stable outlook by S&P Global Ratings. The city plans to pay the debt service on the bonds from tax revenue generated by the Professional Sports and Convention Development Area, which was created in 1997 to pay debt service on the College Football Hall of Fame, and reinstated by the state in 2021.

Andrew Berlin, owner of the South Bend Cubs for the past 13 years, said in an email that getting the Development Area reinstated was “a creative solution to fund major stadium improvements by working with legislators locally and in the state capital. This collective work, in effect, captures state income and sales taxes which would otherwise go to the general fund downstate.”

The bulk of the tax revenue, he said, will be used to improve the stadium, “while the balance can be used by the city to invest in other worthwhile amenities such as the 100-year-old Morris Center for Performing Arts and our main convention facilities.”

Bobby Otter, a director at S&P, said that a number of Indiana municipalities have used Professional Sports and Convention Development Areas, which require legislative approval, to support debt service on projects.        

Construction on Four Winds Field will begin after the season concludes, and the stadium will be ready for Opening Day in 2025, said team spokesperson Pierce. Further work outside the stadium would resume after the 2025 season. “The stadium will be completely redone with a second deck and 2,500 more seats by Opening Day in April of 2026,” he added.

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