Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ACC Baseball Recap

I'm watching the College World Series championship game between Virginia and Vanderbilt. GO HOOS! A-C-C! (I really like ESPN's umpire cam and mic.) I will probably be in the recliner for close to four hours; this is the perfect time to blog about the ACC Baseball Championship held last month in Durham. We had a post-event download last week with the ACC office and Triangle Sports Commission.

The ACC polled players and the media about their experience at the DBAP, and I'm pleased to report Durham's scores:

Asked about the field and facility, 90% of the visiting players rated the DBAP very good to excellent. Appearance and the custom ACC decor were deemed very good to excellent by 91% of the respondents.

The media's take on Durham is important to us. The games were on TV from coast to coast and close to 200 reporters, bloggers and technicians were credentialed. Asked to rate the Durham Bulls Athletic Park as a host site, 80% of the media respondents gave us a very good to excellent score.

Other stats of note from six days of championship ACC baseball...
  • According to the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, hotel occupancy was up 13% during the tournament, lodging revenue rose 25%.
What a fantastic event for Durham. Thank you for bringing this to Durham and putting on such a first class event. 
Shelly Green, CEO, Durham CVB
  • In the American Tobacco Historic District, our restaurants saw a 15-20% bump in biz. One eatery reported a 30% increase. amazing event. We received a lot of exposure from national sports writers and ESPN. 
Brian Amra, Tobacco Road Sports Cafe
  • Total attendance was 64,140 compared to 57K in Greensboro last year and 58K at Durham in 2013.
  • Sunday's final game (FSU beat NC State) drew a record crowd for the championship match-up of 9,759

That's all good, but we aren't resting on our laurels. Durham was awarded the tournament through May 2018 with the expectation that attendance would increase year over year. And we're out to prove Durham should be the permanent home of the ACC Baseball Championships. There's work to do...

Thursday, June 18, 2015


This is one for the highlight reel. Our FM sports-talk station, 99.9 The Fan, was recognized as large market station of the year by the NC Association of Broadcasters at its conference in Greensboro on Tuesday. This is a first for a sports station in our state. Quite an honor! What was once a niche format is now considered mainstream. Country and rock stations once ruled the roost among male radio listeners - now it's sports! Enough braggin'. A confession is in order:

Lacking his visionary instincts, I persuaded our CEO Jim Goodmon not to do a sports station in the winter of 2007. But I remember the u-turn vividly. I was in Atlanta visiting my daughter in the summer of 2007. Jim called with marching orders. We were going to put a sports format on 99.9 (which was country at the time) and he gave me sixty days to make the transition. I negotiated for ninety. The call ended, three months of madness ensued, and The Fan premiered at 3pm on October 10, 2007.

Since then, we affiliated with ESPN, launched the website, moved our tower, increased our power, acquired the Buzz, added Internet streaming, HD radio and a sports app. My hair grows increasing gray! 

Congratulations to Jim Goodmon, our General Manager Brian Maloney, operations/programming chief Dennis Glasgow and the entire sports radio team. I'm basking in the glow of your vision, talent, dedication and success. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Through the lens

Celebrate the DBAP's 20th anniversary with some outstanding photography in the June/July edition of Durham Magazine

Online edition - featuring Briana Brough's pix
Photo essay - by Briana and Emily Toth

Monday, June 1, 2015

Culinary Contradictions

The Bulls have been recognized by PETA and the NC Health Dept for providing veggie and other healthy food options, but it’s more of a challenge than you might think to develop that sort of ballpark menu. In my experience, healthy eaters fall off the wagon when confronted with the DBAP aromas of popcorn, Rise donuts and sizzling sausages. We’ve offered sushi and salads over the years, but they weren’t especially popular. I’m afraid this is where weight-watchers come to cheat or to reward themselves for good behavior. 

In that vein, we were recently mentioned in a Garden & Gun survey of southern ballpark fare. Our Carolina Que Dog, a Bright Leaf foot-long topped with Hog Heaven barbecue, was a headliner!
G&G - South's Best Ballpark Bites.

Still, we keep our shoulder to the wheel of healthy eating…with some recent success: This weekend we premiered a fresh fruit cart from the new Durham Co-op Market. Fresh pineapple on a stick, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon slices and grapes. Low and behold, it has proven to be quite popular! Business was brisk. I’m encouraged. The fresh fruit kiosk and the Rise donut stand posted similar sales volume. The culinary world is in perfect balance!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The ACC Baseball Championship is underway in downtown Durham - the event's home for the next four years. We gladly share our southern hospitality (in return for $16 million in economic impact) as we welcome college baseball fans from Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, UVA and UNC. (Va Tech and Ga Tech bowed out today in the play-in round.)

We confess to shameless home-town bias, but Durham and the DBAP seem to be natural homes for the tournament. 
Read today's Herald-Sun editorial and story.

Here's an indispensable link to the tournament bracket. And you don't have to be a baseball fan to join us for "free stuff" - Wednesday's WRAL hot air balloon exhibition in Diamond View Park and the Friday-Saturday FanFest on Blackwell Street.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Take Your Grandchild to Work Day

He wasn't intimidated by the crowd and commotion. He seemed to notice the crack of the bat. He preferred section 200 to the VIP club. He was enthralled by the cup holder on his seat. The fountain on our entry plaza was most enticing. 

That's the summary of my grandson's Saturday outing to his first Durham Bulls game. It was a big day for our family!

The grand finale for 9.5 month old Miles was an encounter with Wool E. Bull. There were no signs of the dreaded childhood scourge known as mascot anxiety. Wool E. cordially extended his hoof; Miles confidently reached for his muzzle. A friendship was born. Hopefully, Miles will develop an affection for the National Pastime. That may take a few more years, but at least we're off to a good start with Wool E. Bull!

Friday, May 15, 2015

New ballpark dress code: Cap & Gown

We hosted Duke University's Commencement last Sunday. Traditionally, it's held in Duke's football stadium, but extensive renovations are underway there. So, we welcomed over 15,000 grads, family and faculty on a misty Mother's Day morning. I'm thankful that we dodged a downpour. Heavy rain would have wreaked havoc on the turf. (Always worrying about the grass!)

Befitting Duke's world class reputation, this event is meticulously planned and organized. Of course, they've had considerable practice. This was #163. I hope some of their attention to detail rubbed off on us. And I've dropped the hint that our head groundskeeper, Scott Strickland, should be considered for an honorary degree in logistics.

...but they ignored my suggestion that we hawk hot dogs, beer and peanuts. I struggle with the concept of pomp and circumstance.

Seriously, it was the Durham Bulls great privilege to have Duke University in our house...en masse.