Saturday, February 14, 2015

Coach Smith - Rivalry & Respect


My sports marketing career began in Charlottesville at UVA in the late-70s. That's where I became one of those ABC fans - anybody but Carolina. The UVA-UNC hoops rivalry wasn't as intense as it is here with NC State or Duke...but it was THE Univ of Virginia vs THE Univ of North Carolina, and Wahoo Coach Terry Holland even named his dog Dean Smith. I would say that qualifies as a fierce rivalry. 

In 1991 I moved to RDU and assumed my company's broadcasting affiliations with Duke and NC State. I really put ABC to work!

...but today you might say I'm a recovering ABCer, because I was won over by Dean Smith's progressive faith and politics as well as his generosity. It began in 2003 with the ALS Assn's "Field of Dreams Gala." (I was on the chapter board for a decade.) Smith came to the DBAP to film a public service announcement for the event. He had a strong connection to ALS. It had claimed the life of his friend, Skipper Bowles, another UNC legend. 


Smith attended the 2003-2005 Galas and played in the 2006 Catfish Classic ALS Golf Tournament. Chapter President Jerry Dawson refreshed my memory this week: Coach Smith agreed to let us auction the three other spots in his foursome, and it sold for $5,000 on eBay. He signed many items for us over the years which helped raise funds for the fight. He was a great guy, but I am a little biased because he is one of my heroes! 


It's great to be a legend, even more impressive to end one's life a bonafide hero for accomplishments on and off the court. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hail Fellow Well Met


That greeting, albeit archaic, fits Don Shea who passed away on February 1st. He was Mr. Congeniality! He was equally loyal and generous. Obituary | Jeff Gravley's take: A True Gem Tribute

Don worked with our company for nearly 30 years, at WRAL TV and Wolfpack Sports Marketing - hosting the NC State coaches' shows, selling sponsorships and performing various media duties. He was devoted to the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic and Duke Children's Classic. Indeed, he was a classic. This tribute aired last weekend on the Mark Gottfried NCSU Basketball Show:



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.