SOUTH BEND — The South Bend Cubs said Monday that they have entered the top 10 nationally among all professional minor league baseball teams in merchandise sales.

There are 160 minor league teams in the country.

The Cubs said that Minor League Baseball reported the club's movement into the top 10.

"When we announced the Chicago (Cubs) affiliation in September of 2014, I talked about the Cubs as one of the most recognized and valuable brands in the world," South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin said Monday. "We knew fans in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan had a historic bond with Chicago. But even we were surprised at the level of enthusiasm witnessed for this South Bend team all across the country.

"Not only can you feel the enthusiasm at Four Winds Field," Berlin continued, "you can see it in all 50 states where fans are increasingly wearing South Bend Cubs merchandise in record numbers."

While the South Bend Cubs have openly utilized their Chicago Cubs connection for marketing success, they've also benefited from putting their own spin on logos.

"So many of our logo variations, like our leaping Cubby bear, project attitude and athleticism," South Bend Cubs president Joe Hart said. "That blend of Chicago and South Bend seems to be something that everyone loves."

Including even members of the parent club.

"It's also exciting to see staff and players for the Cubs organization in Chicago wearing some of our South Bend logo wear," Hart said. "Obviously, it's a choice. And I think their choice has a lot to do with preserving the legendary Cubs logo while adding a distinctive South Bend flair at the same time."

South Bend Cubs merchandise is marketed to fans across the country via SouthBendCubs.com. International sales to date have included Canada, New Zealand, Saint Croix and Sweden, per the team.

Berlin noted that South Bend Cubs items purchased through the club also benefit the city, as "South Bend keeps all of the state income tax on merchandise sales from the team because the South Bend Cubs are a professional team."

"Normally, that tax money goes directly to Indianapolis for the general fund," Berlin explained, "but the city benefits from something called the Professional Sports Development Fund and is allowed to keep all of the sales tax income."

The South Bend Cubs are members of the Class A Midwest League.

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