Durham Bulls Athletic Park
|Location||409 Blackwell Street|
Durham, North Carolina 27701
|Owner||City of Durham|
|Operator||Durham Bulls Baseball Club|
|Field size||Left Field – 305 ft (93 m)|
Left Center – 375 ft (114 m)
Center Field – 400 ft (122 m)
Right Center – 375 ft (114 m)
Right Field – 325 ft (99 m)
|Broke ground||April 24, 1993|
|Opened||April 6, 1995|
|Renovated||2002–04, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2019|
|Expanded||1997–98, 2009–10, 2014|
|Construction cost||US$18.5 million|
($31 million in 2019 dollars)
|Architect||HOK Sport now Populous |
The Freelon Group
|Project manager||CHA Enterprises|
|Services engineer||Knott Benson Engineering Associates P.A.|
|General contractor||George W. Kane Construction Co.|
|Durham Bulls (CL and IL) (1995–present)|
Duke Blue Devils (NCAA) (2010–present)
North Carolina Central Eagles (NCAA)
ACC Tournament (1996, 1998, 1999, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019)
2014 Triple-A All-Star Game
Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP, pronounced "d-bap") is a 10,000-seat ballpark in Durham, North Carolina that is home to the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball. It is also home to the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Central Eagles college baseball teams. The $18.5-million park opened in 1995 as the successor to the Durham Athletic Park.
The ballpark was designed by HOK Sport (now Populous), who also designed Camden Yards in Baltimore, Progressive Field in Cleveland, and Coors Field in Colorado as part of the "new" old-stadium-like movement of the 1990s. The Bulls began playing at the DBAP in 1995 when the team played in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. In 1998, Durham moved up to the Triple-A level, causing the DBAP to be expanded to 10,000 seats. The first Triple-A game was played on April 16, 1998.
A roof covers approximately 2,500 seats behind home plate and down both the first and third base lines to the end of each dugout. All seats at the DBAP are extra wide with seat backs, extra leg room and over 95% of the seats have cup holders. The stadium was designed and built so that every seat gives fans a great view of the field with an intimate ballpark feel. Durham Bulls Athletic Park is located in downtown Durham and can be accessed from the Durham Freeway. The ballpark reflects many characteristics of old-time parks and the historic downtown Durham architecture.
On August 30, 2011, Triple-A Baseball announced that Durham Bulls Athletic Park would be the host site of the 2012 Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. The Triple-A National Championship Game pits the winner of the International League's Governors' Cup against the Pacific Coast League Champions in a one-game, winner take all championship. The Bulls were the first International League team to host this annual game. The game was projected to bring in $2.5 million just for the city of Durham with another $2 million for the adjacent cities (including Raleigh). The game itself saw Reno of the PCL win an easy 10-3 victory over Pawtuckett of the IL. On June 15, 2019, the DPAP set a new paid attendance record with 12,000 attending a game versus the Scranton /Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Blue Monster
The ballpark's left-field fence is a 32-foot-high (9.8 m) wall, 305 feet (93 m) from home plate, known as the Blue Monster. It resembles Fenway Park's Green Monster, including a manual scoreboard. Original plans called for a wall 8 feet high, however, due to the park's dimensions conflicting with a nearby road designers shortened left field by several feet. As a result, the wall ended up being 24 feet tall. The wall reached its current height in 1998. The club introduced a furry "Blue Monster" mascot during the 2007 season who now shares mascot duties with "Wool E. Bull" and "Lucky the Wonder Dog".
The bull sign mounted atop of the Blue Monster was modeled after the bull used in the 1988 film, Bull Durham. The actual sign from the movie (which featured at the Bulls previous home, Durham Athletic Park) formerly hung in the DBAP concourse but is now in storage. Although much sturdier than the original, the new sign's limitations were revealed in violent winds that rocked the Piedmont on April 16, 2007 – the bull's head and forelegs were torn off by the storm. The damage was fixed by that weekend, but plans were made to replace the sign.
The ballpark has undergone a number of renovations and enhancements since opening, with its first renovations starting only a couple of years after the park opened. Construction of a "warehouse type" building, Diamond View, began in 1997 and was completed during the 1998 season. Diamond View is located behind the right field seating sections and uses the same architecture as the DBAP, including the green roof, brickwork and windows. In 2002, the DBAP unveiled a new playground area in the right field section of the concourse. In the Fall of 2003, the field of the DBAP received a major face lift. After nine years of service, the top layers of grass and soil were removed and replaced with brand new top soil and Tissport™ Bermuda grass. The renovation took place over several weeks and cost over $100,000.
Before the 2004 season, a 13' by 17' Daktronics ProStar LED video board was installed in place of the original scoreboard, giving the Bulls a major technology upgrade for the time. They were able to show instant replay and other graphics. Following the 2006 season, the DBAP underwent major renovations in the outfield, including a new left field wall complete with a new video board located above the manual scoreboard. The old video board was reshaped into a video billboard and placed in right field.
In 2008, with the addition of the Diamond View II building in left field, the Blue Monster pavilion opened allowing fans to watch the game atop the Blue Monster for the first time. The famous snorting bull was replaced by a new two-sided bull so that it may be viewed from Diamond View 2 and 3. The Bulls' TV Crew were also equipped with high-definition cameras and production equipment along with HD production capabilities that same year. This also complemented a new state-of-the-art BOSE sound system.
One year later a stairwell was added to the pavilion. This connected it to the third base concourse, making the DBAP a 360° ballpark. For the 2010 season, the Diamond View II Building opened a new restaurant called the "Tobacco Road Sports Cafe". It has outdoor seating to watch the game during game days or just to enjoy a North Carolina summer evening. Outside the ballpark are four more restaurants: the Cuban Revolution, Saladelia, Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom, and Mellow Mushroom. Construction of Diamond View III began in 2012 and was completed in 2013. Before the start of the 2016 season the Bulls announced additions to the park, including an updated kids play area called Playground 42. Two new message boards also were installed at the main entrance. The boards were made up from pieces of the park's former video board, which was removed due to the 2014 renovations. In 2019, three new ribbon boards were added to the outside of Diamond View II.
After the end of the 2013 season for the Durham Bulls, major renovations to the entire stadium began and were finished by opening day of the 2014 season. After a 20-year lease extension was signed between the Bulls and city of Durham, keeping the minor league team at the stadium through 2033, both parties agreed that improvements were much needed. The renovations cost approximately $9 million, $6 million of which was covered by the city. In their agreement to renovate the stadium, it was set that the city of Durham would have a maximum cap of $12 million spent on all renovations. Anything beyond the $12 million would be covered by the Bulls, with the team having to pay a minimum of $2 million towards the total costs.
The biggest issue for fans attending games at the DBAP had been long concession lines and an overcrowded concourse with no view of the field. To alleviate this problem, concessions were added to the upper-level concourse, which previously had none. New picnic areas were added down the third-base line and in the outfield stands. Additionally, a new club area was built that can also be used for non-Durham Bulls related events during the off-season. The club area now had its own kitchen, separate from the regular concessions' kitchen to help improve the speed of the food service.
The field was completely restructured within the renovation as well. The entire field and underground plumbing was removed and updated with new plumbing, better drainage, new sod, and a new crown to ensure that the field drains properly. This had not been done in the 18-year life of the stadium and was a much-needed part of the renovation.
Additionally, the stadium had new field lighting, a new ticket entrance down the third base line, and new scoreboards and video boards. TS Sports of Dallas was contracted to install three new state-of-the-art, HD displays. They include the Blue Monster primary display (25.4' (h) x 63' (w)), right field LED wall display (6.5' (h) x 327.6' (w)), and the club level fascia display (3.2' (h) x 119.8' (w)).
The renovations were finished before the opening pitch of the 2014 Durham Bulls season on April 3, 2014. The quick turnaround was primarily due to Durham being the host city for the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. This nationally televised game brought in visitors from across the country for a 5-day festival. Had it not been for this reason, Mike Birling, the Bulls then- general manager, stated that the renovation would have most likely been done in phases.
The original dimensions were: Left Field – 305 ft (93.0 m), Left Center Field – 371 ft (113.1 m), Center Field – 400 ft (121.9 m), Right Center Field – 373 ft (113.7 m), Right Field – 327 ft (99.7 m). The power alleys are now posted as 375 ft (114.3 m) and right field as 325 ft (99.1 m).
In addition to hosting the Bulls, DBAP has also been host to other baseball events since its opening. These include hosting eight ACC Baseball Tournaments, hosting the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2014, and hosting the Triple-A National Championship Game in 2012. In the 2012 Triple-A National Championship Game, the Pacific Coast League's Reno Aces defeated the International League's Pawtucket Red Sox, 10–3. In the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game, the International League All-Stars defeated the Pacific Coast League All-Stars, 7–3. Perhaps the most significant game during any of the events was an 18-inning contest between the UNC Tar Heels and the NC State Wolfpack during the 2013 ACC tournament semifinals. It set records for both the largest attendance for a college baseball game in NC with 11,392 attending, and the longest baseball game in ACC tournament history.
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The press release also includes a picture of the damage
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- "Pawtucket Red Sox (79-66) 3, Reno Aces (82-63) 10" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
- "Triple-A All-Star Game Results (2013–2017)". Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Durham Bulls Athletic Park.|
- Geographic data related to Durham Bulls Athletic Park at OpenStreetMap
- Official Bulls web site description of the stadium
- Durham Bulls Athletic Park Views - Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues
|Events and tenants|
Durham Athletic Park
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