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

Don Drumm Studios

Knight Foundation


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

by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


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
(3:33)
Listen: Terry Pluto grades the Cavs draft
Other options:
MP3 Download
(4:41)
(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

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


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

National Weather Service confirms three tornado touchdowns yesterday
I was driving back from a party and was caught in the middle of a large thunderstorm. The hail and lightning were a whole light closer than usual, is something ...

Another Indians season opens with Chief Wahoo under scrutiny
The picture you have for Robert rocha is not him. He has long hair. No idea who that guy is in that picture

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Copyright © 2014 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