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Business Brief: Jacksonville Suns Make A Play For More Fans

John Burr

The Jacksonville Suns’ new owner has invested a million dollars to create a better fan experience. That’s on top of $25 million to acquire the minor league team last year.

In this week’s “Business Brief,” analyst John Burr takes WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo out to the ballgame for a look at the business of baseball.  

Burr attended a recent Tuesday night game. He says, as it is at all minor league parks, attendance continues to be a challenge for the Suns during the Monday through Thursday stretch.

To attract fans all week long, Babby lowered the general admission price to just $5.

“We’re in the business of affordable family fun $5 tickets, $2 hot dogs, dollar beers on Thursdays. And the Jacksonville Suns will be the epicenter of affordable family fun in Northeast Florida, and that’s what we’re setting out to build," he says.

Babby at park
Credit Ken Babby via Facebook

 Babby is also working on getting to know his customers personally, Burr says. In Akron, Ohio, where he also owns a minor league team, he’s created loyalty by learning the names of his season ticket holders, and asking them how their kids are doing.

He’s probably on to something, says Jacksonville University Davis College of Business Dean Don Capener. Capener teaches a sports marketing class.

“If you could satisfy those folks, they’re going to come back again. You’re going to move them down the loyalty continuum to loyalists. And if you get 10- to 15 percent of the people who come to be loyal, you’ve got the foundations of a successful franchise,” he says.

While at the park, Burr also noticed stadium improvements, like a tiki bar and an expanded menu of food and drink offerings. Plus, he says, the staff all seem very friendly and energetic, like they really want to be there.

Which is good, considering the team plays about 70 home games a year.