New owner Ken Babby to take control following 2015 season
The Jacksonville Suns announced today that the Bragan family, the longtime owners of the club, is selling its Southern League franchise to executive Ken Babby.Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Peter Bragan, Sr." bought the franchise in 1984 and served as its Chairman of the Board until his death in 2012. His son, current President Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Peter “Pedro” Bragan, Jr"., said it was a tough decision to sell but it was the right time and right new owner for the Jacksonville Suns.
“Ken is about the age I was when daddy bought the team,” Bragan, Jr. said. “He has the youth, enthusiasm, and smarts to carry on the great tradition of affordable family fun that daddy started so long ago.
For Babby, this is the second Minor League Baseball franchise in which he has taken ownership after purchasing the Akron RubberDucks in October 2012 (named the Akron Aeros at the time of the sale). In two seasons under Babby, Akron’s attendance has increased 27.7 percent. Last season, attendance rose to 350,704, a record 15.7 percent increase over 2013 as the team rose from ninth to fourth in the Eastern League. There were 12 sellouts at Canal Park and an average of 5,157 fans, nearly 1,000 more than 2013. The Akron RubberDucks are the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians in the Eastern League.
Much of the growth in Akron is tied to Babby’s efforts to improve Canal Park and the gameday experience, which included new group and picnic areas, and one of the largest HD video boards in Minor League Baseball. In addition, last season he opened The Game Grill + Bar, a year-round, high-end restaurant at Canal Park.
“I am humbled and honored to take over the Suns from the Bragan family, who have created such a rich tradition and history,” said Babby. “I look forward to working closely with Pedro to ensure a smooth transition, and making the Suns the very best in affordable family entertainment in Jacksonville.”
The sale will not close until September, so Bragan, Jr. expressed his excitement about keeping the club for one final season, “I would like to invite all of our friends and acquaintances from all over North Florida and South Georgia to come see me and a ballgame, one last time.”
Pedro’s Last Dance will be the Suns’ season-long promotion with several giveaways and special commemorative events to celebrate the end of an era. There will also be a bobblehead giveaway of Madame Chairman Mary Frances Bragan, on her 91st birthday on June 27.
Babby, 35, spent 13 years in various marketing positions with the Washington Post, and its online media counterpart, Washington Post Digital, eventually attaining the position of Vice President of Advertising and Chief Revenue Officer of Washington Post Media and General Manager of Washington Post Digital. His leadership vision is to create a memorable, unique, affordable and enjoyable fan experience, and also maximize the opportunity to create change in the community through charitable, wellness and education initiatives. Ken is the founder of Fast Forward Sports Group.
“I look forward to meeting many key stakeholders in the team, including season ticket holders, fans, and community leaders during the upcoming season, and I wish the Bragan family well during the season of ‘Pedro’s Last Dance,’” said Babby.
The sale is subject to the approval of the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs as well as the City of Jacksonville.
2015 Season Ticket Plans and Sponsorships are currently available, contact the Jacksonville Suns Office at 904-358-2846 or log on to www.jaxsuns.com for more information. The 2015 season is presented by Everbank, official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. The Suns are the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and a member of the Southern League of Professional Baseball.