Reds' minority owner buys Tigers' affiliate

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Erie SeaWolves, the Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, have been sold, the team announced during a press conference in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Friday.

Mandalay Baseball Properties, which has been looking to sell the team since at least the fall, have closed a deal with businessman Fernando Aguirre, a lifelong baseball fan who has other investments in the game.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Aguirre is believed to desire keeping the team in Erie, which will keep the team affiliated with Detroit. The SeaWolves and Tigers have a partnership agreement through at least the next two seasons.

"This is a very exciting opportunity and my third and most important investment in the business of baseball," said Aguirre, who recently became owner and vice chairman of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Single A, Chicago Cubs) and also owns a minority interest in the Cincinnati Reds.

"I look forward to working with the dedicated front office staff to enhance the fan experience and the team's impact in the community. I'm also eager to work with the team's many outstanding partners including the Detroit Tigers and Erie Events."

Aguirre cut his teeth in business with The Procter & Gamble Company, where he spent more than 23 years. He moved on in 2004 to Chiquita Brands International as chairman and CEO. He was with that company for nine years.

Erie president Greg Coleman, with the team since 2011, will keep his job under Aguirre, a native of Mexico City who attended Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on a baseball scholarship. He was an infielder for three seasons, then pitched as a senior.

Aguirre earned Harvard Business School graduate status in 2009.

"We're delighted to have reached an agreement with Fernando," said Art Matin, CEO of Mandalay Baseball Properties. "He has a passion for baseball and business, and it's clear the franchise is in very capable hands. We're very thankful for the support of our fans, sponsors, and community partners over the past 11 years."

The sale has been approved by the Eastern League, Minor League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner. The deal is contingent on what the team calls "customary closing conditions."

Aguirre has been married to wife Citlali for 29 years, and the couple has two adult sons.