Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Red Carpet Evening at the Ballpark


We ring in the New Year with this bling and a big event in the PNC Triangle Club on January 11th. 

The Bulls were recognized as Sponsor of the Year at the Campaign4Change annual soirée - Community Celebrities on the Red Carpet.

Indeed, we are big supporters of C4C and its’ colorful founder, Otis Lyons, AKA Vegas Don. This may seem atypical of the non-profit realm, but there’s a compelling backstory. 

Otis grew up in poverty, took the wrong path, founded a gang, was shot in the head and went to jail - yet remarkably - he made a U-turn, a fresh and positive start. Now, he’s a promoter of hope in Durham’s poorest neighborhoods. He founded a basketball league where the kids are equipped and play for free. He connects with young people through entertainment programs. Raising their sights. Countering the influence of gangs. Otis rolls up his sleeves at the public housing apartments and senior centers, too. The man has a big heart! 

That's Otis on the right.

Durham sports attorney Butch Williams.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan 

Bull City Mayor Bill Bell

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Highlights, Lowlights, Lessons Learned


Admittedly, this is old news, but the photos recently arrived from the Minor League Baseball office. These are from the awards banquet at the opening night of the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego last month. The Bulls were honored as the top franchise in MiLB


Two legends: Announcer Dick Enberg interviews 
retiring MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.


Bulls General Manager, Mike Birling, accepts the award.


Our management team basks in the glow of the big evening: 
Bryan Wilson, retail; Peter Wallace, ticket dept; Scott Carter, mktg; 
Your Blogger; Birling; Mitch Lukevics, Tampa Bay Rays; 
Chip Allen, sponsorship; Brian Simorka, group sales.

~  ~  ~  ~

It goes without saying this was a great way to end a crazy, high-stress year that boasts the $25 million DBAP renovation, hosting the Triple-A All-Star Game and an attendance record. 

I used “boast” in the previous paragraph to make a point…about humility. There was a lesson to be learned in the aftermath of Opening Day last year. While it was a miracle that we opened on time after severe construction delays, it was a night of embarrassingly rough edges. GM Mike Birling took the initiative to send a letter to every ticket buyer offering a do-over, and soon thereafter he installed a new customer service program. 


The City of Durham and Capitol Broadcasting Company have made a tremendous investment in the ballpark’s future…and we are pretty darned good at marketing and promotion…but we are nothing without fan support, without satisfied customers. And that’s more than a financial issue. Your patronage of our ball club is important to the Tampa Bay Rays (700 miles away), the team on the field and our community’s reputation. We will never take that for granted.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Montoyo to the Show


Bulls manager extraordinaire Charlie Montoyo has been called up! 

The Tampa Bay Rays announced today that Charlie will be their new 3rd base coach. 

We are elated! This is overdue and well deserved.

The man is selfless. That virtue defines his leadership style. We can learn from him.  Read my 2010 post about Charlie's Manager of the Year award.


News Release
#ThanksCharlie

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving


What a marvelous year! 


And a day to count my blessings: 

South Division Champs, record attendance, the $25mm DBAP make-over, staging the Triple-A All-Star Game, chosen to host the ACC Baseball Championships, the Bull City Summer art project, expanded television coverage, the 10th anniversary of our downtown American Tobacco Campus... 

I'll stop there and offer a hearty (four-minute) THANK YOU to our fans, Bulls' sponsors, our dedicated staff, the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of Durham:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Playdate for Grown Ups


We are not finished with the DBAP make-over. Improvements to our right field play area are next on the agenda. To get the creative juices flowing, GM Mike Birling had the brilliant idea to attend the IAAPA Expo in Orlando. That's the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. 



We flew down last Tuesday and spent the day at this gigantic trade show - nine miles of exhibits! Inflatables from Ireland, carnival rides from Italy, carousels from Poland. Truth be told, it was overwhelming. I need to think like a first grader. (That shouldn't be so hard!)




I'm trying to figure out how to build a wave pool in the right field corner of the ballpark? Or dancing waters in the batter's eye? Or a zip line spanning the outfield seats? (Just kidding...maybe.) The Baseball Winter Meetings are next month in San Diego. That's another mammoth trade show. We will sort this out during the winter. Imagination will become reality by next April.  


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Buzz @ 80


Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University
WDNC was Durham's first radio station taking to the airwaves in 1934. Eight decades later it's spreading across the media landscape like kudzu!

This summer we have extended the venerable AM radio station to the FM band with two translators. One covers Raleigh on 99.3 and last week we added 96.5 to serve Durham.



These changes represent an improvement in fidelity and coverage for Duke University sports, Durham Bulls baseball, CBS Sports Radio...and during the daytime for fans of Mike & Mark (6-9am), Dan Patrick (9am-noon), Jim Rome (noon-4pm) and ESPN's Dan Le Batard (4-7pm).

In your car, on your phone/tablet/PC/TV...
The station is also available to HD Radio listeners (99.9 HD2) and we stream the signal at our website and on our app. Also, you can watch the Mike & Mark morning show on MeTV (WRAZ .2 and TWC 1250.) That's seven channels of distribution for what used to be one AM radio station. Happy 80th birthday to WDNC!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Leader for ACC Baseball


We have recruited a top-notch talent to lead the ACC Baseball Championships in Durham. Lee Folger will join us on October 1st. He hails from Baseball America, the sport's bible. Lee is very much in sync with our vision to grow the annual event and to become its permanent home. He has closely followed the trajectory of the SEC and NCAA tourneys, and he brings his network and knowledge to bear on marketing the premier ACC event in Durham. As a Triangle resident - with degrees from UNC and Duke - he brings great enthusiasm to the job, too. This is our media release from Tuesday:







The Durham Bulls have tapped baseball media executive Lee Folger as Tournament Director for the ACC Baseball Championships. The annual tournament returns to Durham Bulls Athletic Park next May, and the team has a four-year commitment from the Atlantic Coast Conference to host the event through 2018. 

Folger, most recently, was President and Publisher of Baseball America, a Durham-based media company. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Lee has worked in sales/marketing and executive management positions for numerous media organizations including Reed Business Information, Curtco Media, The Red Herring, and University Directories. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife and two children.

"I am delighted Lee will be leading our team. He is highly regarded for his knowledge and enthusiasm for all things baseball," said Casey Steinbacher, chair of the tournament's Local Organizing Committee and CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. "This is a statement about Durham's formidable commitment to the tournament and to becoming its long term home." 

"Lee has built strong ties throughout the baseball world over the past fifteen years," said George Habel, Vice President of the Durham Bulls. "His expertise and connections will be invaluable as we grow this annual event in our community. As a Triangle resident with degrees from two ACC universities, he shares our vision for what the tournament can become here."

The 2015 ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park begins on Tuesday, May 19 as five days of pool play get started. The tournament culminates with the Conference's Championship Game on Sunday, May 24.

"I am thrilled with this opportunity to showcase ACC baseball, Durham and the Triangle region to the entire country," said Folger. "The DBAP has been a venue for many historic moments, in professional and amateur baseball, and I look forward to ACC Baseball Championships that are memorable for fans, players, coaches and the community."

The ACC Baseball Championship has been held in Durham eight times previously, including three of the past five years. In 2013 in Durham, tournament records for single-game attendance (11,329) and championship game attendance (8,697) were set. The 2013 championship drew 58,454 fans, the fourth highest total in league history.