Ken Babby, a native of Potomac, Maryland, opened a new era of Jacksonville baseball by becoming Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Jacksonville's Minor League Baseball club in September 2015. Building on Jacksonville's baseball tradition, he introduced the team's new identity as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on Nov. 2, 2016.
Babby, 39, is the founder of Fast Forward Sports Group and the youngest multi-team professional sports owner, owning the Akron RubberDucks since October 2012. He was named one of Sports Business Journal's 2016 "Forty Under 40," recognizing excellence and innovation in sports business careers - all before age 40. In 2017, he was named to the Jacksonville Business Journal's 40 under 40, and he was an Entrepreneur of the Year® 2017 Award winner in the Northeast Ohio region.
In the inaugural season as the Jumbo Shrimp, attendance increased by more than 61,000 - the most of any Double-A ballpark and a Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville-record 23 percent - to more than 325,000 for the first time in seven years. The opening homestand of 41,276 was the highest-attended series in the ballpark's history. The Jumbo Shrimp earned the Southern League's Organization of the Year and Promotional Trophy, winning two Minor League Baseball Promotions of the Month.
Babby has invested more than $1.8 million into the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to add the Budweiser Tiki Terrace, renovate all the private luxury suites on the BDO Suite Level, develop the Hot Corner group hospitality area, expand the suite-level lounge and improve other ballpark areas.
In his first five seasons with Akron, the team moved from ninth to as high as fourth in the Eastern League standings, while welcoming more than 340,000 fans each of the past four seasons since the identity change to the RubberDucks. Babby has also personally invested more than $6 million for improvements to Canal Park. In the second year as the RubberDucks, Akron earned the 2015 Larry MacPhail Award, which goes to the Minor League Baseball team with the most outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts. Since Babby's acquisition of the Akron club, the franchise has grown average attendance by 38 percent and in 2016 was the Eastern League nominee for the John H. Johnson President's Award, Minor League Baseball's top award for an organization.
Prior to Akron, Babby spent 13 years in various marketing positions with The Washington Post and its online and social media counterpart, Washington Post Digital. After starting as a summer intern with the newspaper in 1999, Babby rose through the ranks, eventually attaining the position of Vice President of Advertising, and most recently, Chief Revenue Officer of Washington Post Media and General Manager of Washington Post Digital.
Babby's two-fold mission is to create a memorable, unique, affordable and enjoyable fan experience, and maximize the opportunity to create change in the community through charitable, wellness and education initiatives.
He serves on numerous boards in Northeast Ohio. In Jacksonville, Babby is a Trustee Chair of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and on the Jacksonville University Board of Trustees, Jewish Community Alliance Board of Directors, Baptist Hospitals of Florida Board of Directors, and Visit Jacksonville Board. He is also the chair of the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO), which manages the digital and interactive media rights of its member Minor League Baseball clubs and leagues. Ken is married to his wife, Liz, and has a 10-year-old son, Josh.