(AKRON, OHIO) - As Canal Park has become the home for Affordable. Family. Fun. in Northeast Ohio, the community's support and partnership with the Akron RubberDucks is gaining national recognition. Sports Business Journal ranked Akron as the No. 10 minor league market in the nation in its biennial survey of more than 200 markets.
Akron ranked 10th among 211 markets in the survey, which compiled and reviewed data on attendance, venues, cities and economic regions in 34 leagues and 350 teams nationwide. The survey included measurements of a team's length of presence in its market, commitment to maintaining the sports venues, and the total and average attendance in the past five seasons compared to the previous five seasons.
"We are excited for this recognition for the Akron community, whose outstanding support drives our organization," said RubberDucks owner Ken Babby. "The relationships with our fans, partners and the City of Akron are truly special, and we are grateful to share this with them as we continue to provide Affordable. Family. Fun. at Canal Park."
In the first seven years of Babby's ownership, the club has invested $8.5 million of private funds into improvements at Canal Park, the club's home for 23 seasons in Akron. The RubberDucks have seen attendance grow by 34 percent and the team's corporate sponsors by 42 percent, while also strengthening its close partnership with the City of Akron.
"I am thrilled, but not surprised, to see Akron included in the top 10 of this esteemed national list. There is a real momentum building around Canal Park," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "It is a testament to the value and energy that the RubberDucks bring to downtown Akron, and the hands-on leadership and remarkable vision of Ken Babby and his team. Canal Park is an attraction for families and fans across the region, and a real point of pride for the Akron community."
Akron was the highest-ranked market of any with only one team and one venue included in the survey. While each of the top 10 markets has a Minor League Baseball club, Akron was the only Eastern League market in the top 10.
"It is great to reaffirm that Akron is one of the best places in the country to enjoy Minor League Baseball," said RubberDucks General Manager Jim Pfander. "Providing Affordable. Family. Fun. to all fans in Northeast Ohio has always been our number one goal, and we are humbled and honored to be recognized as one of the top 10 places in the country to enjoy America's pastime."
The Akron RubberDucks are the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The 2020 season, powered by FirstEnergy, will open Thursday, April 9, 2020, with the 24th home opener at Canal Park on Friday, April 17. For more information about the team, please call 330-253-5151, visit the website at akronrubberducks.com, Facebook page facebook.com/AkronRubberDucks, or on Twitter at @AkronRubberDuck, and Instagram at @akronrubberducks.