Thursday, July 21, 2016

Durham Sports Commission

The Bulls, Duke athletics and NCCU sports bring considerable notoriety (and patron dollars) to Durham, but we are about to take the proverbial bull by the horns with sports marketing and sports tourism in our community.

The Durham Sports Commission has been officially established by the Durham City Council and the Durham Board of County Commissioners to recruit sporting events to Durham.

It will be a new department within the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, funded by the local hotel "bed tax," and it will be under the direction of an appointed board. The Commission's first meeting will be held in August, and the search for an executive director will commence.

I'm excited that this Commission is almost a reality. It will enhance Durham's image and economy over time. We recruited the 2012 National Championship game and 2014 All-Star game - on our own - and that convinced me that this kind of organization was needed. Then, we went after the State Games of NC and the ACC Baseball Championship. That was done on an ad hoc basis with help from the Durham Chamber and the Triangle Sports Commission. Having tasted some success, it was clear that sports recruitment represented a travel and tourism opportunity for our community. 

We should do "the wave" for County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs, City Councilman Steve Schewel, former Chamber CEO Casey Steinbacher and Shelly Green, CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. They carried the torch for this. 

ACC Baseball Championship at the DBAP. Powerade State Games
of NC at Duke and Durham Co. Memorial Stadium. 

These are the newly appointed Durham Sports Commission members:

City of Durham Appointees:
·         Desmond Scott – Owner, Prime Athletic Training and Fitness Institute
·         Dan Hill – Founder of Hill Chesson & Woody benefits consulting firm
·         Omar Beasley – owner MC Bail Bonding

Durham County Appointees:
·         Ingrid Wicker McCree – Athletic Director of NCCU
·         Tommy Hunt – retired, Atlantic Coast Conference
·         Dwight Perry – Ophthalmologist/Partner at NC Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat

Durham Chamber Appointees:
·         George Habel - Durham Bulls Baseball Club
·         Chris Kennedy - Senior Deputy Director, Duke Athletics
·         Terrence Holt - Holt Brothers Construction LLC

Sunday, July 3, 2016

All American Eats

This isn't an inside baseball blog. I leave that to the Herald-Sun in Durham or the Times-News in Burlington, and to bloggers like Chris Wise and his Watching Durham Bulls Baseball. Chris is the consummate chronicler of our diamond.

My insights are typically related to the community, team marketing, front office folderol...and I can tell you what's going on inside the ballpark kitchen!

Here's what to look for during the the July 4th home stand...

Beer Brat, simmered in Sam Adams Summer Ale,
sausage stand, main concourse.

Apple Pie Milkshake, served in a Bulls mason jar,
left field corner stand.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Road to Rio

Competition concluded this weekend for the Powerade State Games of NC. Our home grown Olympic-style sports festival may not be a global spectacle like the Rio games in August, but this is where Olympic dreams take shape!

A total of 12,000 participants (770 teams) converged on the Triangle each weekend in June to compete in over 25 sports from swimming to BMX, from skateboarding to fencing. 

Capitol Broadcasting Co. was a sponsor, a commitment with deep roots. In 1986, we helped to found the first State Games of NC and Durham-based NC Amateur Sports. This year, Wool E. Bull was honored to light the Opening Ceremonies cauldron at the WRAL Soccer Center. Adam Gold of 99.9 The Fan was master of ceremonies.

In Durham, we hosted Disc Golf, Pickleball and Tack & Field. There were about 6400 participants and spectators at the Bull City venues.

Disc Golf aficionados designed a unique course at American Tobacco for about 90 participants who targeted parking garage decks, the Famous Bull and home plate at the DBAP. About 500 spectators followed the disc golfers around the campus.

Duke's Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center had never hosted a Pickleball competition before. There were 186 players.

Track & Field, Durham County Stadium. This year's competition had a Rio hallo. Manteo Mitchell, an Olympian from Shelby NC participated, prepping for his Olympic trials.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Of Zombies & Zealots

My friend DJ Mitsch has written a new book Zombies to Zealots, Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work! From the introduction:

The world's largest and most successfully traded companies are full of disengaged, cynical members who leave weekly meetings to mindlessly follow orders out of fear of consequences...

But the book isn't a screed. DJ's purpose: Call your spirit back into the work you do.

And that brings me to my colleagues at the Durham Bulls Baseball Club. Not a zombie to be found. Every last one a zealot!

Last Thursday we finished a mash-up of multiple Bulls home stands, Duke baseball games at the DBAP and the 15-game ACC Baseball Championship. That was a total of 39 games in 35 days. And I didn't bother to count the additional meetings and events hosted in the PNC Triangle Club. Our front office staff, operations department, grounds crew and F&B staff have been sorely tested. They have prevailed!

It's a privilege to work with this crew. They bring their spirit to work. (And thankfully, we don't have another game until June 20th.)

The ACC Baseball Championship Game on May 29th - emblematic of the 6th rainiest May in the Triangle since 1945. After eight hours and twenty minutes, including three rain delays, Clemson beat Florida State 18-13. The next day, Memorial Day, the Bulls began a seven-day home stand.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Citizen Clement

Howard Clement is remembered as a champion of civil rights and civic life. 

[June 6th Durham City Council Resolution | story]

I remember the City Councilman who loved baseball, who brought his grandson to Bulls games.

At Capitol Broadcasting Co. we remember "unfiltered" Howard. He seriously took our company to the woodshed in the late 1980s when we proposed a new ballpark near the airport. Amidst that major problem, he became part of the solution, and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park came to be.

CBC's Corporate Counsel in those days, Mike Hill, remembers Howard's admonishment "the ballpark has to be for all of Durham." So, Mike made sure local favorite Dillard's Barbecue was served at the new ball yard, and in the community, we kickstarted the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League..."for all of Durham."

After the DBAP came the redevelopment of American Tobacco, and Howard helped to galvanize City and County support for the project that revived downtown Durham.

Then, I remember the Q&A at our annual First Pitch luncheon ten years ago in Bay 7 at American Tobacco. We had planted a few softball questions in the audience for the panel discussion. Howard stands up, veering off-script, and asks a Rays exec what the team was doing to develop African American players. A little awkward. And unfiltered. But authentic.

Howard Clement III (1934-2016) A man of many interests, dedicated to many causes and organizations. A true public servant. A baseball fan. We miss him at the DBAP.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kids & Baseball | Rekindling the Flame

The ACC Baseball Championship is drawing fans from Boston to Miami this week, but our Local Organizing Committee has placed a priority on connecting Triangle kids with this major college baseball event.

Thursday morning over 325 students will attend ACC Education Day. It's a "best field trip ever" that ties science and history lessons to the National Pastime. And the kids get to watch UVA, last year's NCAA champ, take on Clemson in the 11am game. 

For three afternoons this week we're entertaining about 250 youth in the Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco Campus. Thanks to WUNC TV they will be viewing an abridged version of Ken Burns' new documentary on Jackie Robinson. Afterwards, they trek over to the DBAP for a snack and the afternoon ACC tournament game. That's my kind of after-school program!

On Friday in the Alumni Village at American Tobacco there's a youth sports clinic and Saturday is Little League Baseball Day.

Meanwhile, fifteen teams (10u, 11u, 12u) are competing in our 2nd annual Triangle Youth Classic at the Walnut Creek complex in Raleigh. NC Development Baseball runs that tournament for us. The teams will come over to Durham Saturday night for the UVA-Louisville game.

Much is written about the decline in baseball fandom among young people. There's no denying it, but here in Durham, we are trying hard to rekindle the flame. The ACC Baseball Championship is a great platform for that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Atomic Crispy Chicken & the Bull City Float

We have packed so much into this upcoming home stand, you'll need a moving van to haul away the memories.

There's a Hall of Fame induction Thursday for the Bulls winningest manager, Charlie Montoyo. Fireworks follow the Friday and Saturday games. The team debuts their Bull City Blues uniforms Saturday. That game is followed by an out-of-the-park hitting exhibition from the amazing Long Haul Bombers. And Sunday is reserved for mascot mania as we celebrate Wool E. Bulls' birthday with dozens of his peers from teams around the region. Click here for more details.

And I offer a culinary heads-up from Bull City Hospitality...

We'll be fryin' up a mess of Atomic Crispy Chicken - chicken breasts marinated in a spicy secret sauce. Just ask for "The ACC" we prepare to host the ACC Baseball Championship next Tuesday.

Dial back that nuclear intensity with a Bull City Float - an orange and blue concoction, owing to Blue Bunny sherbet awash in Fierce Grape Gatorade, served in a Mason jar. I was in on the taste testing this afternoon. It's a hit!