The Akron Aeros start a new week with a new owner. Over the weekend, city officials announced that Maryland businessman Ken Babby has bought the baseball team, and say he's signed a 25 year lease renewal with the city of Akron. There's an option to extend the lease for an additional five years.
Akron mayor Don Plusquellic says that a key part for the city, is that Babby has agreed to pick up the tab for improvements to Canal Park.
"Fortunately for us, the owner has agreed to pay for the main improvements," the mayor tells AkronNewsNow.com, "that will help give the fans even better opportunities to enjoy the game."
Babby formerly ran the digital operations of the Washington Post newspaper/media company.
Plusquellic says first-time owner Babby comes from a sports management family...his father, Lon, is a top executive for the NBA's Phoenix Suns and is also known as a powerful sports agent.
"The enthusiasm that he brings, the quality of people that he has around him, and his family connections with the sports industry will make for something that'll be exciting and better, even, for the fans in Akron," Mayor Plusquellic tells AkronNewsNow.com.
Akron City Council has to approve the lease deal with Babby.
A special council meeting to deal with that topic is expected on Thursday, and Plusquellic says that Babby will be talking with Akron City Council members and the community on that day.
"That's another important part," the mayor tells AkronNewsNow.com. "that he's willing to come down to talk to council members and the public, and tell them the kind of things he has in mind, and what he wants to do."
Plusquellic says council president Marco Sommerville and council member Gary Moneypenny have toured ballparks on their own in places like Allentown and Columbus, looking for ideas for improvements to Canal Park. City officials also attended games with Babby.
The mayor says Babby is already an Akron resident, having found a place to live in the city.
After weeks of speculation, the sale of the Akron Aeros has officially been announced.
At Canal Park today, Akron mayor Don Plusquellic announced the Eastern League team has been sold to Ken Babby of Maryland.
The city says Babby's Akron Baseball LLC has signed a 25 year lease at Canal Park, with the option of an additional 5 years.
According to the city, Babby intends to pay for improvements to Canal Park.
Mayor Plusquellic says Babby is moving to Akron, and has already found a place to live.
(City of Akron news release) Today, Mayor Plusquellic announced that the Akron Aeros Baseball team has been sold to Ken Babby from Maryland, and that Babby on behalf of his company, Akron Baseball, LLC, has signed a long term lease with the City that will keep the Aeros in Akron for at least 25 more years.
Several months ago, Mayor Plusquellic was contacted by the Eastern League President, who indicated that the Akron Aeros team was for sale and that there was a serious buyer, Ken Babby. Mayor Plusquellic met with Babby who stated that his desires were to bring stadium attendance up, renovate the stadium, and enter into a long term lease to keep the Aeros team in Akron.
The City and Babby negotiated the lease terms so that Akron Baseball, LLC, would have a long term lease (25 years) with a five year extension option. This was beneficial to Babby because he intends to make improvements to the stadium, and needed a long term commitment from the City to justify the costs. Babby will pay for the improvements, such as a new scoreboard, left field group seating, right field food areas, and outdoor group party areas, over the term of the lease.
In order to determine what needed to be done to modernize the stadium and make it more desirable, Council President Marco Sommerville visited several stadiums.
“Mayor Plusquellic got me involved early on,” said Marco Sommerville. “I visited several baseball facilities in order to compare our stadium to others, so that we would have an idea of what renovations were needed to make our stadium marketable.”
The long term lease is also beneficial for the City.
“Our citizens get a long term lease and a guarantee that the Aeros baseball team will be housed in Akron for many decades,” noted Mayor Don Plusquellic. “I was thrilled to work with Ken during the last couple of months trying to find ways to improve the quality of the experience for the Aeros’ fans. I look forward to working with him in the future as we have a mutual interest in producing the best results for our citizens and fans. We all want to make the stadium come alive again. Akron residents and our neighboring communities will be able to enjoy baseball in Akron for a long time to come.”