Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meet me @ the DBFP: Durham Bulls FIREWORKS Park

We know how to celebrate the 4th of July. Indeed, 4 is the critical integer: 4 days of baseball and 4 days of fireworks.

Maximum holiday flexibility! You can do your Independence Day celebration Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

I’ll hit some of the highlights:

Friday night (7pm) is USA Baseball’s first-ever Prospect Classic. America’s top college players take on the nation’s best 18 and under prospects. (Buy a ticket behind home plate and watch yourself on the MLB Network Saturday when they replay the game.) Miss North Carolina is in the house, there's a Back Porch Music concert on the American Tobacco Lawn from 6-8pm and the evening concludes with fireworks.

Saturday the Bulls return to the DBAP to play the Gwinnett Braves (7pm) and the game is followed by another pyrotechnics show. Note: the day begins with the Blue Points 5K on the American Tobacco Trail. The run is staged by Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC and benefits Drug Free NC and Urban Ministries.

Sunday is a double header. At 3pm it’s USA Baseball. In this game, America’s top amateurs play Japan. Next up: the Bright Leaf Hot Dog Eating Contest. Then, at 7pm the Bulls play Gwinnett followed by fireworks.

Monday is the All-American real deal. At 5pm there bluegrass music on the Lawn at American Tobacco. Then, we move over to the ballpark for the City of Durham’s official celebration. At 6pm it’s the USA vs. Japan. After the game, we detonate more fireworks, but that’s not all. The night concludes with Kids Run the Bases ‘round the DBAP diamond. I should point out that the City received a grant from Liberty Mutual for extra fireworks. It should be a boffo show, a memorable evening in the Bull City.

For more details, review our complete press release.
For tickets, click here.

Please, leave the fireworks to the professionals. Stay away from those roadside tents. Skip that trip to Tennessee for contraband cherry bombs. Join us this weekend at the DBAP!

Happy Independence Day. God Bless America.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tour de Fat en Durham

The Tour de Fat made its first visit to NC Saturday on the American Tobacco campus. This isn't a bike race, rather a cycling parade and festival. It's sponsored by Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Brewing.

Bikes and beer? Actually, it works when you put a little distance between the two key elements.

Valerie Ward, events impresario at American Tobacco, reports 500 participants - a record for a first-time stop on the Tour de Fat.

$10,000 was raised for the event beneficiaries...

- the Durham Bike Co-op, they teach cyclists how to do basic maintenance and repair and distribute used cycles to people who can't afford them.

- Triangle Spokes Group, they raise funds to purchase new bikes for needy children at Christmas.

- N.C. Active Transportation Alliance, they promote cycling, skating, running and walking - activities where you provide the energy and locomotion vs. an internal combustion engine.

The News & Observer covered the Tour. I recommend Chuck Liddy's photography. Click here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

More attention from the New York Times

More love for the Bull City in the travel section of Friday's New York Times!

It's headlined Durham Dining: Pies, Panini and Barbecue.

"When I lived in Durham in the mid-2000s, downtown’s progress was nascent. It began in the American Tobacco district, an area adjacent to the City Center that was once dominated by a blighted former tobacco factory. Now that district has grown into a full-fledged entertainment complex, bookended by the still-handsome Durham Bulls minor league baseball stadium and, since 2008, the $44 million Durham Performing Arts Center. More recently, the wave of regeneration has spread."
Ingrid Williams

The year began with a Times' piece on places to visit in 2011. Durham ranked 35th on the list of 41 global destinations, flanked by Iraqi Kurdistan and Kosovo

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taking Steps...for Crohn's & Colitis

One in every 200 Americans suffer daily with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

The DBAP hosted a
Take Steps walk on Saturday. Beginning at 5pm, it wrapped up just ahead of the thunderstorm that rolled across Durham.

The Take Steps walk enables patient families to join together with the community to build visibility and awareness about these digestive diseases while raising critical funds. More on the subject from an April post.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Very Superstitious

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer.
Superstition ain't the way.
(Stevie Wonder)

Baseball honors ritual and superstition. It's not confined to the players, and it may be worse among our staff.

We've experienced a lot of rainy weather since the 2011 season began in mid April. This past weekend was dominated by the doppler radar, tarp pulls and rain delays.

Our head groundskeeper, Scott Strickland, volunteered for a head shave...hoping to change the Bulls' meteorological karma. GM Mike Birling wielded the razor like a shaman in this dugout ceremony after Monday night's game.

I have to admit the weather improved immediately. Tuesday was a perfect evening at the DBAP. Still, I would have called a priest.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taking America's Pulse - at the DBAP

CBS News - covering President Obama's Durham visit - visited the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to talk with fans about the economy.

The DBAP was featured in the lead story on Monday's CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. WATCH CBS VIDEO; CLICK HERE.

There is life after the Presidential visit. Moving on...

We're doing a double shot of patriotism on Tuesday.

It's Flag Day and we have teamed up with the 82nd Airborne to celebrate the 236th birthday of the United States Army.

You'll see a 105mm Howitzer and an armored Humvee with a guided missile launcher. Try on a pair of night vision goggles and body armor.

Read more about it, and grab your tickets for Tuesday night at the DBAP. Perfect weather is on tap!

White House to Durham: ROAD TRIP!

President Obama is in Durham to talk about job creation and the economy. His Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is meeting here today. (Complete coverage at, click here.)

"Durham and the whole Research Triangle are exactly what we're trying to do across the country..."

That's a quote from the Council's Director interviewed yesterday afternoon at the DBAP by Keith Upchurch for the Herald-Sun. Click here to read the story.

Left to right: Michael Strautmanis, deputy assistant to the President, and Don Graves, executive director of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, on Goodmon Field for the game ball presentation Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

POTUS Visits Durham

President Obama will visit Durham Monday. He's touring Cree, a home-grown company with a global market for its LED lighting.

The President will be accompanied by his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. These rock stars of American business will be meeting Monday, too.

There’s a reception Sunday evening at the American Tobacco campus and White House staffers are coming to the 5pm Bulls game.

I’m pleased the visitors will get a taste of downtown Durham. The symbolism is significant: tobacco to tech and edu...3,000 people ("the creative class") now working in what was a million square feet of abandoned cigarette factory. Of course, baseball improved the neighborhood, too.

Donning my Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce hat, I have revisited the notes from our May 19th Economic Development Summit in RTP.

We listened to three panel discussions with start-ups, mature tech firms and big manufacturers. The common thread was our talent pool. Certainly, incentives, taxes and lifestyle are important, but “workforce” is our strong suit.

Two entrepreneurs “livin’ the dream” on the coast (Savannah GA and Beaufort SC) relocated to Durham for access to the Bull City's tech talent.

From my conference notes:
  • We have a wealth of human capital in tech and bio-pharma.
  • The confluence of higher education in the Triangle creates a “crossroads for interdisciplinary talent.”
  • Our community college system has effectively re-skilled the workforce from tobacco/textiles to tech.
And there is something special about Tar Heel character: the work ethic of the workforce was cited as an added benefit to doing business here.

These intangibles do matter. Longtime GSK leader (now of Hatteras Venture Partners) Bob Ingram talked about Durham’s warmth, energy and excitement.

I’m confident the visiting CEOs will make note of this on Monday!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

AT BAT...for ALS. Post-game report:

We've been working hard on ALS through the weekend - raising awareness and money.

The disease has close ties to baseball - it claimed the lives of Lou Gehrig and Catfish Hunter - but it needs far more attention.

The cause is unknown. There's no cure, and there are no survivors. Yes, ALS needs far more attention.

To that end, it was ALS Awareness Night at Friday's game and the chapter had a group outing at the DBAP on Sunday.

Angela Murphy, the chapter's Director of Special Events, receives the game ball at Friday's game.

Also, we helped to promote the chapter's eBay auction with 99.9 The Fan and 620 The Buzz. $7,000 was raised.

If you can invest fifteen minutes, here are a couple of notable stories on this topic from last week:

Now, you understand why we're AT BAT...for ALS.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Red Sox Nation Invades Durham - Bid on Schilling!

EXCELLENT weather for the Bulls begin a four-game series with Pawtucket tonight. The Red Sox Triple A affiliate from Rhode Island attracts Boston fans from across the Triangle. Despite our South Division rivalries with the likes of Charlotte and Norfolk, this home stand against New England is our biggest draw.

Expect the headlines to be about pitching this weekend:
  • Former Tar Heel Andrew Miller will start against the Bulls on Friday night
  • Eight-year veteran Brandon Duckworth will pitch against us on Sunday
  • Former Brave Kevin Millwood will start on Monday
Plus, Darnell McDonald is down from Boston on rehab.

Sunday’s game will be televised on NESN in the northeast and Monday’s game will be broadcast on the MLB Network. Regional and national exposure for a baseball battle in the Bull City!

~ ~ ~ ~

Speaking of the Red Sox, the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Chapter of the ALS Association is conducting an on-line auction that features this autographed Curt Schilling jersey and ball. Check it out; click here.

The Bulls donated the Schilling jersey to the auction.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AT BAT...for ALS

At Bat for ALS is underway!

99.9 The Fan and 620 The Buzz are staging a radiothon on Thursday…raising money to fight this terrible disease. The cause is barely understood and there’s no cure. It may sound crass, but here’s my simple formula: CASH (for research and patient care) = HOPE.

Raleigh-Durham is the test drive for this ALS project. Later this summer other sports stations will follow our lead in Philly, Minneapolis, LA, Tampa, Denver and DC.

So, tune in and make a pledge. The Bulls will join in with an ALS Awareness Night on Friday and there’s an on-line auction in progress through Sunday.

Click here to check out the auction. It features some incredible sports memorabilia and VIP experiences: a Yankees’ game in the Big Apple, an ACC basketball game at Duke with credentials for Coach K’s post game press conference, a private batting practice on Goodmon Field at the DBAP, Late Night with Roy in the Dean Dome.

…and if that doesn’t float your boat, Debra Morgan is offering a personalized tour of WRAL TV5.

Thanks for your support!