Monday, March 30, 2009

A Fresh Perspective on Baseball

Fans have a spectacular new view of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It’s a vantage point from the outfield 30+ feet above the warning track and directly beneath the famous snorting bull. The plaza surrounding the Diamond View II office building has been completed just in time for Opening Day. (It was an outfield construction zone for most of last year.)

When the 2009 season begins, patrons will be able to walk the entire perimeter of the ballpark. Warning: the trek features yet another staircase, but that just adds to the adventure.

With the new plaza, the Bulls have an additional entertainment/picnic space – overlooking the field – that can accommodate several hundred people. We can host a gigantic company picnic, family reunion, even a wedding reception for those who would mix nuptials and baseball. We can stage a post-game concert on the plaza and other special events before or after a game.

Join us on Opening Day/April 9th, and be sure to take a walk around the DBAP. It’s good exercise and you will get a fresh perspective on the national pastime.

                                     The new plaza at Diamond View II.

                                     The ballpark view from beneath the Bull.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Downtown with Duke

You probably think Duke University is an enclave in west Durham, and that probably calls to mind the iconic Duke Chapel tower or the hardwood at Cameron.

…but I’m here to tell you that Duke is very much in downtown Durham. The University’s commitment to the center city is beyond impressive.

Duke contributed $7,000,000 to the new Durham Performing Arts Center and the University is a significant presence.

At the end of this month Duke University and Duke University Health System will have over 1,800 employees working in downtown Durham. Duke leases 530,000 square feet of office space - 30% of the leasable downtown office space.

Those figures come from Phail Wynn, Duke’s VP of Durham and Regional Affairs. He shared the info at a Durham Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ meeting last week.

By my count Duke has fourteen different departments represented on our American Tobacco Campus including the controller’s office, info technology and medical center development. Duke can be found in six ATC buildings.

Duke University is a powerful economic engine in our community. A report released last year pegged the University’s overall economic impact at $3.4 billion in Durham. That includes about 20,000 Durham residents earning $932 million. That includes $280 million for goods and services purchased from vendors in Durham. That includes student/vistor spending ($427 million), philanthropy ($51 million) and services/taxes/fees ($26 million).

All that cash aside, I’m very impressed with the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership. Duke is working in twelve surrounding neighborhoods to improve the schools, housing and healthcare…utilizing staff, faculty and students…donations and in-kind support…and endowment funds. Back to the cash - it totals $16 million since the partnership was founded in 1996.

I trust the Blue Devils will do us proud during March Madness, but regardless, Duke is a CHAMPION.

This is the HQ of Duke Corporate Education at American Tobacco - the restored Lucky Strike building. Duke CE has offices in Durham; New York City; Carlsbad, CA; London, England; Johannesburg, South Africa; Ahmedabad, India.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Durham Bulls are well positioned for current market conditions, as an economist might say. The annual Fan Cost Index has been released. To us, it’s a key economic indicator. 

Lifting a few lines from our news release…

A fun night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 2009 will cost a family of four only $43.50, $11 less than the Minor League Baseball average and $18 less than the Triple-A average. Incredibly, the Bulls are almost $6.00 less expensive than the league average for Short Season/Rookie League Baseball. (The survey is based on the price of two adult tickets; two children’s tickets; four hot dogs; two sodas; two beers; a program and parking.)

An evening at the ballpark is the epitome of value investing. Maybe that explains why Warren Buffett is part owner of the Omaha Royals. (The Royals are giving away a Warren Buffet bobble-head in May!)

Despite that valueBull news, I have to admit that preseason ticket sales have been a little sluggish. However, we were greatly encouraged by the turnout for our annual Fanfest on March 6th. It was a beautiful day and a record-setting 2300 people showed up. I would like to think that’s another key economic indicator.

I apologize for the ticket and concession lines, but we weren’t expecting the big crowd. It spilled onto the diamond where fans could take BP and play catch. The field was covered with people.

It’s a good thing that our head groundskeeper, Scott Strickland, was out of town. He would have been pretty stressed with all those folks working out on his freshly cut, perfectly manicured, thick green grass. The upside: Scott was in Puerto Rico. He was invited to work on the grounds crew for the World Baseball Classic. An honor for Scott. A good forecast for the Bulls. Opening Day is April 9th.