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St. Paul Saints Ownership has Transitioned from Goldklang Group to Diamond Baseball Holdings

Twins Daily Contributor

ST. PAUL – After 30 years of making baseball more fun, the Goldklang Group, who revitalized the St. Paul Saints franchise in 1992 and played their first season in 1993, are selling off their team to Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH). The sale was announced by both parties on Wednesday, March 15, and talks between the parties began after the conclusion of the 2022 minor-league season. 

Image courtesy of Theo Tollefson

Jeff Goldklang was still in college and playing for his baseball team when the St. Paul Saints played their first season in 1993. He’s worked at every type of position a minor-league team can offer from concession stand sales to his current role as president of Goldklang Group. Goldklang shared his memory of seeing the Saints in 1993 shortly after his college career ended. 

“I had heard all of this hoopla about these St. Paul Saints,] and I couldn't wait to get there. I remember showing up the first day and thinking that I was dropped off at the wrong ballpark when we were at Midway. I thought, ‘This isn't a minor-league stadium. This is a high school ballpark. We’ve come very far from our humble beginnings there, which were probably the most enjoyable times of most of our lives in baseball,” said Goldklang. 

Goldklang is the son of Saints Chairman and CEO, Marvin Goldklang, and he spoke on what brought the parties together after the Goldklang Group originally declined an offer from another party to purchase the Saints in the summer of 2022. 

“We talked internally, after we said no, and decided that if an offer came from a group or an individual that we felt could continue the Saints along the same path as we built it. Effectively fans first entertainment first, with baseball, obviously as the backdrop that that we would consider it,” said Goldklang.

The right partner came around with Peter Freund, founder, and CEO of DBH, who has been affiliated with the Goldklang Group for several years as a partner owner in the Charleston Riverdogs and a limited partner in the Group’s stake in the New York Yankees. 

“He gets it. He knows who the Saints are and when they [DBS] came along and made us what we felt was a reasonable offer at the time. That was when we decided this was the right opportunity,” said Goldklang. 

Freund was unavailable for comment on this story, but a quote from him in a March 15 press release was provided by the St. Paul Saints to Twins Daily. 

“The Saints are an iconic franchise, unquestionably one of the jewels of Minor League baseball, and the club’s incredible legacy cannot be understated in St. Paul. DBH’s primary objective is to continue building on what my friends and partners of over a decade, Marv, Mike, Bill, and Jeff, have already created, and to continue supporting the incredible Saints staff, players, fans, and [the] entire St. Paul community,” Freund said. 

Many of the in-game fan experiences that make the Saints, the Saints, are still planned to occur for the 2023 season. The annual Name the Pig contest put on by the Star Tribune, concluded yesterday, but the Saints Ball Pig will still be at every home game for the 2023 season. 

“DBH knows who the Saints are and they recognize that we're one of the few minor league teams in a Major [League] market. And in order to not just survive, but to be as successful as we've been the fans have to be in on the joke. You go to a Saints game, you are part of the action, you're part of the fun. DBH understands that and they have indicated to us that they're going to let the staff do what they do,” Goldklang said. 

There is nothing but optimism from the Goldklang Group on the future of the Saints under the ownership of DBH. Jeff Goldklang has said that Freund sees the Saints as a ‘royalty’ type franchise among Minor League clubs, and wants to continue what makes the team a constant source of fun for the city of St. Paul. 

The St. Paul Saints open their season on the road for a three-game against the Toledo Mudhens on March 31. Their home opener is Tuesday, April 4, against the Iowa Cubs. 

DBH has come into ownership of 14 Minor League Baseball teams since launching in 2021, the Saints, are their 15th franchise now under their ownership. The Saints are also the second Minor League affiliate DBH has come into ownership of. The Wichita Wind Surge being the other that DBH purchased in December.  

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This article raises more questions than it answers, honestly.

What are the other 14 teams they own (do they own multiple in the same league)? Is this corporate approach common in indie ball?

I've thought the move from indie to Twins affiliate was an odd step given the Saints' history. I wonder if Goldklang will soon get back into non-affiliate leagues. Or maybe they're just cashing the check from a publicly financed stadium and easing into early retirement.

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Will again ask my question from the day this was announced.  Does anyone know if the Twins sold their minority interest in the Saints?  Or did they retain that with the new majority owners?

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Briefly looked into this because I saw the word diamond in the ownership and got concerned but I am able to confirm that the company has nothing to do with diamond sports group. What I did find however is that Diamond baseball holding was founded in only 2021 and has been buying up minor league teams like crazy, according to their website they would now have majority ownership in 15 teams with the saints. Who is behind this big shopping spree? Well unsurprisingly it's a private equity firm called Silver Lake, never heard of it until now but they own DBH. So basically you've got wall street with majority ownership in the Saints now. I for one am extremely skeptical of this because these private equity firms don't just invest because they like the vibes. But we will have to see how this plays out. 

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Let's hope the new owners really do get it, that a Saints game is far more than just a baseball game - it's a happening. For that very reason I'd make some changes, starting with the baseball pig. Cute, yes. But people in the cheap seats can barely distinguish the pig from any old programmed bot, scurrying along doing some brainless task. If you want a more visible treat, how about training one of those hybrid hog monsters that are terrifying Canada? Catch one early enough, train it to the saddle, then have a monkey ride the pig to the ump, flinging a sack of balls like poop at the zoo. I'd buy a ticket just to see that!

Granted, there is a risk factor here. However, tusks can be trimmed, hooves can be shod, and a well-treated monkey will do his job with grim regularity. Plus, it would provide a job opportunity for a couple rodeo clowns. We all love clowns!

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