- Location: Des Moines, IA
- League: American Association 1982-1997; Pacific Coast League 1998-2019; Triple-A East 2021; International League 2022-
- Affiliation: Chicago Cubs 1982-present
- Ballpark: Sec Taylor Stadium 1982-1991; Principal Park 1992-present
The Iowa Cubs of the International League, formerly of the Pacific Coast League, briefly in Triple-A East, and now in the International League, ended a 1960s Des Moines, IA, baseball dry spell. The Chicago Cubs farmhands play their home games at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The I-Cubs are among the teams Endeavor Group Holdings acquired in late 2021 and put under its newly created Diamond Baseball Holdings subsidiary. Endeavor also owns Ultimate Fighting Championship and Miss Universe. When the team was sold, outgoing owner Michael Gartner handed each of the team's 23 permanent employees an envelope at a New Year's Eve party, on December 29th. In it was a share of the $600,000 profit form the sale of the team, proportional to each employee's length of service, averaging $70,000 per person.
After a long history as the Des Moines Demons or Des Moines Bruins in lower leagues ended in 1961, MLB's expansion of 1969 brought the game back to the Iowa capital. The only one-season, four-team expansion ever also necessitated new teams throughout the minors, and Des Moines landed one in the resurrected American Association - although ending up a farm club of the Oakland Athletics rather than one of the new MLB clubs. The franchise has never used its city's name, playing as the Iowa Oaks through both its Oakland and Chicago White Sox hitches into the first season with the Cubs. In 1981, the club took its parent team's nickname while retaining Iowa over Des Moines. This is now the second-longest current partnership among clubs that are not commonly owned. The I-Cubs won the American Association title in 1993.
Iowa is one of four states with a minor league team that uses its state name as its locale name. (This does not count the Carolina Mudcats, because "Carolina" is not a state name, or the Tennessee Smokies, who are named not for their state but for the mountain range.) Although it may seem odd, each of those four states has other full-season affiliated teams. Before MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization, Iowa hosted four other full-season affiliated ball clubs - more than any of the other such states. The reshuffle eliminated two Iowa teams, but the Hawkeye State remains the only one of the four state-named teams with more than one other affiliated club. The I-Cubs are unique within that universe in one way, though - they are the only state-named team that is in a higher level than all of its state-mates.
They play Copa de la Diversión Hispanic engagement campaign games as Demonios de Des Moines (Des Moines Demons; Des Moines has no connection to Demons other than alliteration - the French phrase translates to "of the monks", after the local river).
- Michael Guzman: "Iowa Cubs' employees get holiday surprise", mlb.com, December 31, 2021.