News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Knight Foundation

Hospice of the Western Reserve


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Pluto: The Aeros rebuild a ballpark – and a relationship – in Akron
Commentator Pluto says Ken Babby is having to make up for a lot of ill will that the absentee owners created


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
Ken Babby committed to $3.5 million in private stadium investments, including the largest videoboard in AA.
Download (WKSU Only)

The Indians are approaching the second half the season in first place. And while that excitement is centered in Cleveland, our sports commentator Terry Pluto says there are reasons to also pay attention to the Tribe’s minor league teams scattered around the region, including the AA Akron Aeros.

Listen: Terry Pluto on why fans should take a look at the minors

Other options:
MP3 Download (3:33)

An anchor for downtown Akron
When Canal Park was first built, it was meant to improve the whole downtown, commentator Terry Pluto says.

“The idea in Akron when Mayor Don Plusquellic urged to have them build Canal Park was that it would become one of those magnet, anchor things in downtown Akron,” Pluto says. “I can tell you that area was pretty desolate before Canal park moved in. The idea was for Canal Park to become a catalyst for downtown Akron and 16 years later, I think, in a lot of ways, that’s happened.” 

imageA stadium in decline
But in the last few years, the stadium and the fan experience went downhill, Pluto  says.

"The previous ownership just let it run down,” Pluto says. “The scoreboard had  lights that were out. You’d walk into the restrooms, they weren’t clean. It seemed like they weren’t really thinking about what people wanted at the concession stand. It was running on automatic pilot.”

New ownership, new life 
But Pluto says new owner Ken Babby is taking new approaches. Babby, whose father Lon Babby is president of the Phoenix Suns, will probably go on to own more minor league or even a major league franchise and is using the Aeros to test techniques for running a team and attracting fans. New Akron Aeros owner Ken Babby player catcher at Canal Park this past winter

But first, “he’s having to make up for a lot of ill will the last number of years that the absentee owners created,” Pluto says. “Most of the suites were not sold anymore and people just didn’t seem to care about it. The novelty of the new park wore off.

“But now it looks a lot more like a new ballpark than it did even last year just by sprucing it up quite a bit and getting a new scoreboard and some other things.”

A special relationship
Beyond that, the Indians have  teams at four levels of the minor and major leagues in Ohio, and Pluto says that creates a special relationship with the fans.

“I know some people who have watched players at all four levels,” Pluto says. “They got to be friends with them, because in the minor leagues, even in Akron, some nights there’s a thousand people or less there. You actually get to know the players.”

That’s especially important in the minor leagues, he says, because the draw is less about the team’s performance and more about the fan experience.

“When you’re running that franchise it isn’t so much what’s happening on the field,” Pluto says. “It’s how you’re taking care of your fans.”

Listen: Terry Pluto on the Indians staying power
Other options:
MP3 Download
Listen: Terry Pluto grades the Cavs draft
Other options:
MP3 Download
(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Kasich campaign evokes dark images of a Trump presidency

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University