Ken Babby, founder and chairman of Fast Forward Sports Group, LLC, was named today to the Sports Business Journal’s prestigious 2016 “40 Under 40” class, which annually honors 40 of the most talented leaders of the sports industry’s next generation who are under 40 years of age.
Babby, 36, led Fast Forward Sports Group’s purchase of the then-named Akron Aeros in October 2012, and in March 2015 led FFSG’s purchase of the Jacksonville Suns, Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
“I am honored and humbled by the Sports Business Journal’s selection,” said Babby. “It wouldn’t be possible without the amazing group of people we have assembled, who have dedicated so much time and effort to our vision of making affordable family fun and the ballpark experience the best in the business.”
The 2016 SBJ “40 Under 40” class will be formally recognized at a mid-April gala dinner and awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Some notable baseball accomplishments by Babby include:
- Becoming the youngest multi-team professional sports owner with his purchase of the Jacksonville Suns in March 2015.
- Named the youngest chairman of the board of the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO) in 2014.
- Privately invested more than $6.1 million into Canal Park renovations, including the installation of a $1.65 million HD video board at the time, the largest in Double-A baseball and one of the largest in the minor leagues.
- Increased Akron’s attendance by a record 11.9 percent in 2013 and smashed again in 2014 at 15.7 percent, resulting in a 27.7 percent attendance increase in his first two seasons.
- Made Canal Park the first stadium in Ohio to accept Apple Pay and the first in all of Minor League Baseball.
- His new, creative, fan experience-driven approach has led to the RubberDucks to win the 2015 Larry MacPhail Award, given by Minor League Baseball to the club that has demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts, after also being the Eastern League’s 2014 nominee for the award.
Notable community and personal accomplishments by Babby include:
- At 27, he was the youngest vice president and corporate officer in the history of The Washington Post Company.
- He is on numerous local boards in the Akron area, including: Akron General Health System, Akron Roundtable, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, Shaw Jewish Community Center of Akron, Old Trail School, Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU), Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Positive Coaching Alliance, and the Summa Foundation Golf Committee. He is active with the Downtown Akron Partnership, Leadership Akron, and numerous other civic groups.
- In Jacksonville, Babby is on the 2016 Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
- Served as honorary chairman of the American Cancer Society’s 2014 Cattle Baron’s Ball, was the guest conductor for the Akron Symphony’s Holiday Pops concert in 2014, and danced in the Akron Children’s Hospital’s Dancing for the Kids event.
- Named by Crain’s Cleveland Business as one of its 2015 “Forty Under 40” awards.
- Babby is the youngest trustee for the Wheaton College Board of Trustees, his alma mater.
Adam Liberman - Akron RubberDucks Public Relations
330-253-5151, ext. 284
Marco LaNave - Jacksonville Suns Media & Public Relations