Friday, October 7, 2016

Baseball U

Everyone understands that Minor League Baseball exists for the purpose of player development. We are a training ground, and that rings true for our entire operation. The DBAP is a launching pad for careers in the sports industry.

My advice to young people interested in the sports biz: Get a degree in business (or another major aligned with your interests) and it must be paired with a couple of years of part-time work experience in a ballpark or an arena. One internship at the end of your college career doesn't confer a competitive advantage. You need more than that! Here's what we offer at the Durham Bulls:

Seasonal employment. About 50 local college students are on our game day staff ranging from picnic hosts to fan ambassadors to the on-field promotions crew. Another 20 are in food and beverage jobs with Bull City Hospitality. 

Trainee program. In addition to hourly seasonal employment, we had 23 college students or recent grads in our trainee program and two interns. They were working in the ballpark operations, ticketing, retail and marketing departments. We even added accounting trainees this past season.

News flash!!! Some of these jobs begin in Jan-Feb and the rest commence in April. Students who start looking for that summer job in May will miss out. Bulls job postings can be found on the Capitol Broadcasting Company website.

Explorer Post 50. The Bulls and Fox50 sponsor a unique training program for video production. Remarkably, our in-stadium and TV broadcasts are produced by high school students! We have about 75 participants. The young people in this program probably get more hands-on experience in Post 50 than a university communications major provides.

Through the Triangle Community Foundation we offer an annual scholarship program for our matriculating Post 50 members. These are our 2016 recipients, recognized on Labor Day during our last game of the season...

Scholarship winners: 

Bruklyn Miller (3rd from right) – This is Bruklyn’s first season with the Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50 program. She attends Meredith College with a GPA of 3.1 where she is studying Mass Communications with a minor in Marketing. 

Rachel McKinney (2nd from right) – Rachel has been a member of WRAL Explorer Post 5 for 3 years and Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50 for 2 years. She is a graduate of Apex High School with a GPA of 4.8 and is attending UNC at Chapel Hill, studying Media and Journalism.

Austin Edwards (far right)  – Austin has been a member of Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50 for 3 years, and he has taken on a leadership role. Austin is on the PIT (Producer In Training) Crew. He is a graduate of Green Hope High School with a GPA of 4.4 and is attending North Carolina State University, majoring in English with a concentration in film.

Molly Sobb (not pictured) – Molly has been a member of Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50 for 2 years. She is a graduate of Riverside High School with a GPA of 3.8 and is attending High Point University, studying Strategic Communications.

To the right of Wool E. Bull: GM Mike Birling, Post 50 sponsor/volunteer Ken Bland, and volunteer/Post alum Rob Rowe.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Renovated Reynolds

The makeover of Reynolds Coliseum at NC State is spectacular! Thanks to Deputy AD Michael Lipitz for the tour last week. He ably led the project.

The ACC men's basketball tourney and the Dixie Classic originated in this hallowed hall, completed in 1949. It's the repository of Jimmy V's legacy and home to Kay Yow Court. A shrine to Tobacco Road hoops. Holy ground for Wolfpack Nation. 

The arena's rich history has been preserved, enhanced actually, with museum quality displays, and the space has been totally reimagined. More from

Sunday, September 25, 2016

99.9 The Fan - Marconi Nominee

You can't brag about an award you didn't win, but I must give a shout-out to our crew at CBC Sports Radio - 99.9 The Fan, Buzz Sports Radio and 1550 The Ticket.

Specifically, 99.9 The Fan (WCMC-FM) was nominated for a Marconi Radio Award - top sports station of the year in America. The awards gala was held last Thursday night in Nashville at the annual Radio Show. It's a huge conference staged by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau; 2,200 in attendance.

99.9 The Fan has been a sports station only since 2007. We're a relative newcomer to the format, so it's quite an honor to be nominated. WFAN in NYC won the trophy last year, and this time around we were competing with a slate of major market stations. (RDU is radio market #38.)

The Detroit station won this year. We shall return!!! And I'm proud that we were on the the field of play. Congrats to our staff at 99.9 The Fan. That's our Director of Programming and Operations on the left, Dennis Glasgow, and our General Manager, Brian Maloney, on the right. Top talent!

Monday, September 19, 2016

HB2 Damage in Durham

The anvil of HB2 landed on Durham last week.

The ACC, at the direction of its University presidents, pulled their neutral site championships out of NC for 2016-17, following a similar decision by the NCAA. So, the week-long ACC Baseball Championship will not be held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park next May. In the spirit of transparency (and venting) I post herewith:

It's is so frustrating that this is hurting our community that prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness. Sadly, that doesn't offset our Legislature's resistance to the same. 

I'm not despondent, though. This will be worked out by either judges or politicians in the next year, and hopefully, the tournament will return. I'm more concerned with the loss of momentum. We are trying to convince the ACC that Durham should be the long-term home of the event, and we were awarded a four year contract to show that Durham (and the Triangle) would embrace the event and grow attendance.

Last May, our pre-sold ticket sales were up 24%, and day-of-game sales averaged 1,000 per game for the weekend games. That was without UNC in the 2016 field, so clearly, we were making progress attracting "locals" to the games. Over the past two years, the ACC Baseball Championship in Durham has averaged attendance of 60K for the week with an annual economic impact of $3-5 million.

Regarding the latter, our hotels and restaurants, that had enjoyed full capacity over the typically slow Memorial Day weekend, get a punch to the gut.

My griping is not aimed at the ACC. They are our partner. We've hosted eight Championships since the DBAP opened in 1995. And I should admit that we have been the beneficiary of controversy in the past. We landed the tournament during the SC Confederate flag controversy, and we played host on very short notice when Fenway Park reneged on an invitation to the ACC.

My grousing is reserved for the NC legislature, the Republican leadership and our Governor. (I am registered as an unaffiliated voter, and on this issue I'm particularly unaffiliated with the GOP.)

I will never be convinced that this was really about the transgender bathroom issue in Charlotte - because the law has no enforcement provisions. Trust me, I've read the bill (over and over.) It was cooked up by the GOP leadership to motivate their voters, and it was meant to slap down Charlotte's city council. In the process, they took a broad, mean-spirited swipe at the entire LGBT community. That's what brought NC embarrassing national attention and the ire of the NBA, NCAA and ACC. Restroom security/privacy was never a problem - just a scare tactic to get votes. 

Meanwhile, the travel and tourism sector takes a major hit. Restaurants and hotels will lose millions. At sports venues, the hourly employees - the ushers, concessions workers and parking attendants - will lose work. The party known as a champion of business has done a great deal of economic harm.

We have just formed a Sports Commission in Durham to recruit sporting events to the Bull City. I'm a member. It was created and funded by the City Council and Board of County Commissioners last spring. The Durham Chamber of Commerce shepherded the project for over two years. Now, we are in the process of hiring two staffers. We must remove this anvil, aka HB2, so that we can get about our work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Forever a Bull: William Mills Law

Our last game was Monday, but the season truly ended this afternoon with a noon celebration of Bill Law's life here at the ballpark. The closing prayer was followed by Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Reception fare: hot dogs and nachos. That's the way Bill wanted it! 

Our long-time PA announcer and team ambassador was beloved by fans, staff and the larger baseball community, owing to his devoted leadership of the Raleigh Hot Stove. RDU's Mr. Baseball. Forever a Bull. [Obituary] [Bill's Law - his life in baseball,]

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park, with its steel beams and brickwork, has has a certain look, and because of Bill, it even has a sound. His voice reverberated beneath the roof and throughout the concourse on the PA system. It truly met the criterion of “unique” - a Boston accent mellowed (or sweetened) by a lifetime spent in North Carolina. [More memories from our staff.]

We will miss Mr. Law…deeply. I have not known a more loyal member of the staff. And I can still hear his voice at the ball yard.

*  *  *  *

A moment of silence for Bill Law at the August 30th Bulls game.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Night Lights

As the Olympics wind down, high school football takes center stage. (The calendar and schedule intersect in a weird way this year; we will play two games before classes even begin!?!) 

And here we go! WRAL TV5 dispatches a dozen photographers across the viewing area for Football Friday. Jeff Gravley takes the reigns from the retiring Tom Suiter for our 36th season. Due to the Olympics, the first show will be an abbreviated version, folded into the 11 o'clock news tonight. The full half-hour premiers on August 26th.

Here's the breaking news...
We launch a major new program on our HighSchoolOT web platform tonight at 6:55, HighSchoolOT LIVE. This is crazy ambitious. Utilizing video streaming technology, cellular transmission and ultra-compact production gear, we are webcasting seven games simultaneously...and pulling them together in a live studio show. It's hosted by our guru of prep sports Nick Stevens. (My heads about to explode as I type this!) Bookmark this:, and thank you Taco Bell for signing on as the presenting sponsor.
Our Game of the Week (multi-camera production) will be Millbrook @ East Wake at 7:00 PM. We will have the following video streams in addition to that game:

New Bern @ Hillside, 7:00 PM
EE Smith @ Southern Durham, 7:00 PM 
Heritage @ Green Hope, 7:00 PM
Wake Forest @ Panther Creek, 7:00 PM
Clayton @ Cleveland, 7:30 PM
Wakefield @ Middle Creek, 7:00 PM

Connecting with the community is in Capitol's DNA as a local broadcaster, and high school sports is as grass roots as you can get. The HighSchoolOT website and apps clocked 20 million page views last year and 1.5 million unique visitors. It's obvious that prep sports matter in the Triangle!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Our Man in Rio proud of our colleague and Bulls radio announcer Patrick Kinas! Initially, it was an just an honor to be chosen for the Olympic radio network team. Now, it's because he's doing such a great job - a Gold Medal performance!

WRAL TV's Debra Morgan talked with him Thursday:
I knew, being an emotional guy, that coming down here and being involved in a Katie Ledecky moment or Michael Phelps history, that I may need to somehow restrain my emotions so that those don't interfere with what my job is down here. While it's been hard to do, the hair on my arms, the back of my neck have still stood up. But I think I've maintained my focus on what my job is. It's been exhilarating!

Debra's Rio report on Patrick (video)
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