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New Jax Suns owner Ken Babby: ‘I absolutely love what I’m doing’

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In the ultimate generational passing of the torch, 35-year-old Ken Babby has assumed control of the Jacksonville Suns from the storied Bragan familytaking ownership after the 2015 season and planning what he says will be a millennial’s approach to freshening up the fun at the ballpark.

The divorced dad of a 7-year-old son, Babby is a sports fanatic who used to run the digital operation for The Washington Post. He first got into minor league ball when he bought the Double-A franchise in Akron, Ohio, in 2012.

But taking over for Peter Bragan, Jr. and his family in Florida, says Babby, is literally a different ballgame.

“I’m following a great legacy,” Babby told Florida Politics. “This is a much bigger market than Akron, and the absence of a Major League Baseball team really presents a great opportunity.”

When the new season kicks off April 7, 2016, Babby says to expect an increased emphasis on family-friendly activities, even more of a party atmosphere, and a coordinated approach to working with city officials on driving excitement to Jacksonville’s urban core.

“We’ll have home games 71 nights a year, plus other attractions — movie nights, craft beer nights,” he said. “I’ve already met with the Downtown Investment Authority to discuss how we can grow this vibrancy that’s happening in the city.”

Under the Bragans, the Suns ballpark had a staff of about 17, Babby says. He’s beefing that up to 40.

“Were going to increase staff, ticket sales, and excitement.”

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

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