Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Cleaning for Spring Training

It's controlled, purposeful CHAOS at the we prepare for Saturday's Spring Training Showdown (presented by Midas) the Bulls take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Our last exhibition game with the parent club was in 2002. It's been a while. We're pumped! And real busy...

New signs being installed on the Blue Monster.

Scott Strickland, our Titan of the Turf, gets the field ready.

Off-loading Lite and Pepsi.

...and the Corona arrives. There were ten delivery and
maintenance trucks on Jackie Robinson Blvd this morning.
Serious gridlock.

Last minute work on the roof.

Gates open at 1:00 Saturday for the 3:00 game. Come early and watch the Rays take BP. Bring your glove!

It's going to be an awesome weekend!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Birth of our Beer!

Bullpen Pale Ale was born last week at Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro. It will be on tap at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park during the 2010 season. We hoist a glass to John Connolly, director of brewery operations, for his newest creation.

A few of us got a sample over the weekend. It’s a tough job, but someone has to step up and take responsibility for the beer tasting! I even photographed a proud parent:

A few comments:

Malty…touch of hops…bright clear finish.

You know it’s handcrafted.

Smooth…good with a meal or solo.

A “sit back and watch a ball game” kind of beer.

We’ve had a Bulls’ branded beer in previous seasons (El Toro) but this is the first brew created specifically for our fans.

Carolina Brewery, with locations in Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The locally-owned brewery/restaurant has drawn international attention for its handcrafted beers that are distributed to local restaurants and stores by Harris Inc. That’s the long range plan for Bullpen. Enjoy it at the ballpark, in restaurants, at home. Cheers!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Live United III

A final post on a subject near and dear to my heart - the United Way of the Greater Triangle...

Despite the Bulls’ 2009 national championship, I like to point out that we’re not really in the baseball business; we’re in the business of family entertainment. I find that particularly rewarding. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is like a giant rec room - families just hangin’ out…food and drink…kids running wild…lots of conversation, laughter and camaraderie.

But there are things we don’t see at the ballpark - the family secrets: The battered wife. The abused child. Drug addiction. The lonely senior citizen. The illiterate adult. The dying cancer patient in need of hospice care. We don’t see the child at risk because his family has fallen apart. We don’t see the aids patient. We don’t meet the Hispanic family for whom the American Dream seems elusive.

When I support the United Way, I’m helping those people and attacking each and every one of those problems. Plus: Inner city day care, childcare scholarships for low-income families, temporary housing for homeless families, pregnancy counseling, adoption and foster care services. I’m helping the Y, the Girl Scouts and the Red Cross.

The United Way is like a mutual fund for good works. A $17 million dollar portfolio of social/human services…invested wisely in 158 programs at 89 agencies…invested with compassion in our community.

And take a look at this video from Jim Green, a Sr. VP with United Way of the Greater Triangle. Jim was an “at risk” kid. He understands at a very intimate level what it means to LIVE UNITED

Live United I
Live United II
Web site: United Way of the Greater Triangle

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grafix & Statz for March Madness

Durham is the home of SportsMEDIA Technology – the company that provides CBS with that all-important graphic on your TV screen that shows the score, game clock and other vital statistics for March Madness.

The firm has won fifteen Emmys for technical achievement and performance, that according to an interesting piece in Saturday’s News and Observer. Check it out! Consider all of the work that goes into something we pretty much take for granted.

SportsMEDIA does the same for NBC football, the NBA on Turner, ESPN’s NASCAR broadcasts and the regional broadcasts of the Yankees and Red Sox.

SportsMEDIA has generously donated its baseball system to Post 50, the Explorer post that produces the Durham Bulls television broadcasts. That’s their work across the top of the screen…

Another March Madness note: The SportsMEDIA system feeds real-time stats to the announcing crew throughout the game. Did you really think those guys could talk and do math at the same time?!?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gaga for Google

Cities across the country are in a frenzied competition for Google's attention. The company is offering to install supercharged Internet service in the winning community. Durham - home to the Research Triangle Park - wants in on the action. Indeed, we're a perfect fit! (Vice President Biden was here today visiting Durham's Cree Inc. - a leader in LED development and manufacturing.)

Several hundred Durhamites converged on the field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park this afternoon. The photo tells the story...

Those human letters make an important statement about the Bull City. We understand it's about more than bits, bytes and bandwidth. Technology connects and empowers PEOPLE. Note to Google: Put Durham on your high fiber diet!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dispatch from Tobacco Road

The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament returned to Greensboro this past weekend. I would have preferred a more exotic location, but the hoops purists were delighted to be in the Greensboro Coliseum. (The pomegranate martini at the Liberty Oak restaurant was pretty exotic, though.)

I drove to Greensboro 4x - on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (I’m embarrassed by my carbon footprint.) I wasn’t planning to be so diligent in my attendance, but our NC Wolfpack upset Clemson on Thursday…and Florida State on Friday…to make the semifinals on Saturday. Then, the Pack lost to Ga. Tech by three points, but it was a sweet run. Check out the Mark McIntyre slideshow at

And then I jumped on the Duke bandwagon for Sunday's championship game. When you work in Durham, you are allowed to ride the Duke bandwagon. More pix from Jack Morton on

But here’s the big news from the ACC tourney…

Who do you think people were watching? The former ACC superstars in attendance, celebrity coaches, Dickie V, politicians, CEOs? Wrong!

The most watched, most photographed celeb was ESPN reporter, Erin Andrews. She was accompanied by her partner from Dancing with the Stars, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. They were courtside all weekend. Every fan in the Greensboro Coliseum with a camera phone snapped their photo.

(More photos from Getty Images)

So, Greensboro turned out to be exotique after all - the intersection of hoops and Hollywood!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Live United II

The Bulls and Capitol Broadcasting Co. are longtime champions of the United Way of the Greater Triangle. I have some more stats for you. Consider this the flip side of UWGT’s trading card…

1 in 4 Triangle residents will receive service(s)…from the 89 United Way affiliated agencies…that operate 158 programs…in Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston Counties.

I was curious as to how the total of $17 million raised compares to communities of similar size (1.1 - 1.2 million population.) I got the numbers from UWGT and by making a few calls. It’s a mixed bag based using 2008 (pre-recession) totals:

New Orleans - $16 mil
Austin -
$17 mil
Nashville -
$16 mil

Memphis -
$26 mil
Jacksonville -
$25 mil
Louisville -
$27 mil

The last three markets might be stronger because those cities have more corporate headquarters - and companies with a UW tradition - but I’m not convinced that is the determinant.

A most surprising stat…from the Triad: Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point have separate community campaigns, and they raised a total of $35 million. Wow!

It’s hard to draw hard and fast conclusions from these numbers, but I know UWGT is looking at the “best practices” of the more successful campaigns for lessons learned and new strategies.

One thing I wonder about here in the Triangle: We have a young work force and more young, high-tech companies. They don’t have deep roots with United Way.

We need to work on that! More in my next post…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Live United

We are stalwart supporters of United Way. Our division business manager Rhonda Carlile serves on Durham’s Program Accountability Committee and I’m on the Durham County Cabinet.

Most folks only see the fund raising side of United Way, but there’s considerable work behind-the-scenes to analyze community needs, allocate funds accordingly and hold human service agencies accountable for the money they receive through United Way.

75% of the $17 million raised last year by the United Way of the Greater Triangle came directly from employees contributing to workplace campaigns. That’s hard-earned money from people with generous hearts. I can assure you from personal experience that United Way is most serious about its responsibility to donors.

Speaking of the ’09 campaign, Capitol Broadcasting received a pair of awards for its promotional support at the Durham Performing Arts Center on February 25th.

Rhonda Carlile accepts on behalf of the Durham Bulls.

Loretta Harper-Arnold and Chris Downey receive the award for Capitol Broadcasting Company.
~ ~ ~ ~

Baseball fans love stats and comparisons. Let me apply that to United Way…

As I mentioned, the 2009 Triangle campaign raised $17 million. The same amount was contributed in 2008, but holding your own in a recession is pretty darned good. The Chronicle of Philanthropy predicted that charitable giving would be down 9% last year, so United Way supporters in our community bucked the trend!

How does the Triangle compare to peer communities, ie, Nashville, Austin, Jacksonville? More stats in my next post…

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grapefruit League

I been in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time. (Dr. John)

I’ve been in Ft. Myers FL on a vacation that was supposed to happen in January, but it was pushed into February thanks to the bizarre Dixie winter. I’m about to leave as Spring Training games begin. Bad timing. Very bad.

The Rays, Red Sox and Twins train in this vicinity. Of course, you see many a snow bird in Boston apparel, but the Rays are getting adequate attention. “Big Game James” Shields (a former Durham Bull) is slated to start for the Rays in their opener with Baltimore this week. He says, “On paper I think we look great.” Click here for the story in the Ft. Myers News-Press, and they have a good online section about the Grapefruit League.

Dave Shore of 99.9 The Fan was down here last week. He’s setting the stage for the April 3rd Rays-Bulls exhibition game in Durham. Watch his report for TV5 sports.

Click for info on the April 3rd game - the Spring Training Showdown.