JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Tuesday, we told you about the season being canceled for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and all of Minor League Baseball.
Now we’re learning that despite the cancelation, the Jumbo Shrimp will not layoff any full-time employees. News4Jax sports anchor Cole Pepper spoke with the owner of the team about the decision.
There were as many approaches to the delay and eventual cancelation of the season as there are minor league owners, but Ken Babby, who owns both the Jumbo Shrimp and the Akron Rubber Ducks said even when he believed the season would start at some point he made the decision to weather the storm and not cut staff.
“Back in March, when all of this began, we set out to develop, really our principles for how we would want to approach the crisis, and a lot of that was thinking about how we wanted to come out of the crisis, what our reopening process would look like,” Babby said. “Of course, we could have never imagined a year where we wouldn’t have a season, but even in that doomsday scenario, which is turned out to be what’s happened, to cities that we own teams with no baseball. We’ve made the commitment to retain our staff.”
What would seem on the surface to be the kind of decision an owner might spend days pouring over the books and creating financial scenarios and backup plans. But Babby says it really wasn’t a tough decision to make.
“Not only was that the obvious choice, but it’s the right choice,” Babby said. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have incredible partners in our community. Fans that have supported us, literally every partner in town that I’ve talked with over the last three months has said, ‘We’re with you. Roll our sponsorship over to 2021. We’re committed.’ And that allows us to keep our staff on board and that’s exactly what we’ve committed to do. Our entire full staff is it full-time staff is completely intact”
This was supposed to be the first year of a new naming rights deal on the stadium. 121 Financial Ballpark never saw a Jumbo Shrimp game played in the newly named stadium. The signage is there, but there won’t be any Southern League Baseball until 2021. But before then, there will still be some other events at the park.
“We will begin the process--not only of planning safe social distance events at the ballpark like our fireworks is Friday night events we’ve done for Father’s Day, movie nights, but we will also accelerate our planning for 2021, and really thinking in all those creative ideas, some of which were well planned for this year,” Babby said. “So you can imagine 2021 will be a very exciting time and you know, when baseball returns, it’ll be safe. And that’s where our focus will shift.”
Babby also said that all season ticket holders have the choice to roll their tickets over to next year as do group ticket purchasers. In short, if you bought tickets to see the Shrimp this year, you can see them next year. If you want a refund, you’re asked to email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.