By Ronnie Tellalian
The Akron Aeros are coming off one of the best seasons in recent memory. Finishing with an Eastern League best 82-59 record, the Aeros won the EL Western Division. They defeated Bowie in the Division Series, and then bested Trenton to win the EL Championship. In the wake of that great year, the Aeros turned a new page in the front office when former Washington Post Chief Revenue Officer Ken Babby purchased the team. Immediate changes were under way, including a new 25-year lease on Canal Park that calls for $3.5 million in stadium upgrades.
Babby brought the Akron media together today to announce the first big step in those upgrades. The Aeros began construction this afternoon on a brand new $1.65 million dollar HD video board. The new board will replace the old board in right field. It features a crisp HD screen that measures 26-feet by 68-feet, a full five times larger than the old board. The screen on the old board covered 450 square feet while the new board totals 2,314 square feet. This new board is designed and engineered by Daktronics and will be one of the largest in all the Minor Leagues, and the largest in Double-A.
Fans will notice an immediate difference to their ballpark experience. Five HD cameras displayed throughout the park to capture video at all angles, instant replay, new in-game promotional and entertainment options, and real-time statistics and game information are just some of the many new features included with the new video board. There is also a plan in place to show movies during the summer, allowing fans to picnic in the outfield and watch family friendly films.
With these upgrades and the new lease, Babby has displayed a total commitment to the city of Akron.
”We are committing hard to Akron for the long term of this great city,” Babby said.
Babby’s pledge to the city doesn’t stop there.
“All of our improvements are dedicated to fan experience and making this the best place for family affordable entertainment in North East Ohio,” Babby said.
Commitment was the theme of the day as Akron Mayer Don Plusquellic took the podium.
“We need to thank Ken [Babby] for his total commitment to Akron; he’s moved here, he has made a total investment to the city,” Plusquellic said. “I’m sure within a very short period of time that he will be the number one advocate for the city of Akron.”
Aeros General Manager Jim Pfander learned his craft under Mike Veeck. Indians fans may recognize the name since Bill Veeck was a former owner of the Indians the last time the Tribe won the World Series. Pfander is widely known as one of the best GM’s in the Minor Leagues. He reiterated the importance the new Aeros ownership is placing in the fan experience.
“This video board project is all about giving the fans in Akron the best entertainment in Northeast Ohio,” Pfander said. “We pride ourselves on providing affordable family entertainment and fans will certainly get their money’s worth this season with an unparalleled experience at [Canal Park].”
Akron Aeros fans can certainly look forward to a fantastic baseball experience in 2013 and years to come as long as this regime remains in place in Akron Ohio.
Photos: Akron Aeros