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01/14/09 5:30 PM EST

Cards cease efforts to buy affiliate

GM cites economy as impediment to Triple-A Memphis purchase

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are ceasing their current efforts to purchase their Triple-A Memphis affiliate.

Citing an extremely difficult economic environment, the Cardinals acknowledged Wednesday that they have withdrawn their letter of intent to buy the Memphis team. Memphis will remain the club's Triple-A affiliate.

"It's something that we spent a lot of time, energy and resources to see if we couldn't find a way to make it work," general manager John Mozeliak said. "But given the current climate, it just did not seem to make sense at this time."

Last summer, the club announced that it had agreed to a letter of intent to purchase the affiliate, while also extending its player development contract (PDC) with Memphis for four more years. The PDC still runs through 2012 and is unaffected by the decision to halt purchase efforts.

"We're surprised, but we understand the decision," Bill Harter, Memphis' president of business operations, told the Memphis Business Journal. "It's nothing against the city or the team, it's just the economic environment. Our operations are solid, but it's a heavy burden of debt service."

Memphis has been the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate since 1998. The Cardinals own their Double-A Springfield and Class A Palm Beach affiliates, and they had hoped to add a third Minor League club to their portfolio.

"We're still excited to know that we're going to be playing baseball down there and that we have a PDC in place through 2012," Mozeliak said.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.