After weeks of speculation, Ken Babby officially became the owner of the Aeros on Thursday afternoon after the Akron City Council approved a 25-year lease extension for the team’s home at Canal Park.
“It is a tremendous honor to become the next owner of the Akron Aeros,” Babby, 32, told the Beacon Journal in his first public comments since buying the team from the father-son duo of Mike and Greg Agganis.
“We are extremely grateful to the Agganis family for bringing minor-league baseball to Akron, and we look forward to building on the strong foundation they have established.”
Although Babby spoke in terms of “we” and “our” before heading to the Eastern League’s postseason meeting in Portland, Maine, on Thursday evening, he purchased the team for an undisclosed price as the sole owner. However, he is expected to seek out some local investors. Mike Agganis paid $48,000 for the franchise rights in 1981.
“Our desire is for the Aeros to exemplify all of the values that the city of Akron stands for — hard work, family and community,” said Babby, a Maryland resident who spent 12 years in the IT department at the Washington Post before leaving the paper in March.
“Our entire focus will be on creating a fan experience that is truly exciting and memorable, while also maximizing our opportunities to become difference-makers in the community both socially and economically.”
Babby’s enthusiasm for creating a quality downtown experience is greatly appreciated by city officials.
“[Babby] is a phenomenal, gung-ho new owner who really wants to improve the experience here for the fans,” Akron mayor Don Plusquellic said Saturday.
The Aeros have been consistent winners on the field, but the team’s attendance has steadily slipped the past nine years, going from first place to ninth in the 12-team league.
“We are anxious to get to work,” said Babby, who recently found a home in the Akron area and plans to be hands-on and visible in the community.
“He’s young, vibrant, energetic and has a lot of great ideas for this team,” council president Marco Sommerville said Saturday. “Not only that, he’s made a commitment to Akron. He’s already decided to move here and not just fly in when games are going on.
‘‘The last 15 years under the old leadership, the old owner didn’t bond or have a relationship with this community. [Babby] wants to be a part of Akron.”