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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


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.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Buzz @ 80

Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University
WDNC was Durham's first radio station taking to the airwaves in 1934. Eight decades later it's spreading across the media landscape like kudzu!

This summer we have extended the venerable AM radio station to the FM band with two translators. One covers Raleigh on 99.3 and last week we added 96.5 to serve Durham.

These changes represent an improvement in fidelity and coverage for Duke University sports, Durham Bulls baseball, CBS Sports Radio...and during the daytime for fans of Mike & Mark (6-9am), Dan Patrick (9am-noon), Jim Rome (noon-4pm) and ESPN's Dan Le Batard (4-7pm).

In your car, on your phone/tablet/PC/TV...
The station is also available to HD Radio listeners (99.9 HD2) and we stream the signal at our website and on our app. Also, you can watch the Mike & Mark morning show on MeTV (WRAZ .2 and TWC 1250.) That's seven channels of distribution for what used to be one AM radio station. Happy 80th birthday to WDNC!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Leader for ACC Baseball

We have recruited a top-notch talent to lead the ACC Baseball Championships in Durham. Lee Folger will join us on October 1st. He hails from Baseball America, the sport's bible. Lee is very much in sync with our vision to grow the annual event and to become its permanent home. He has closely followed the trajectory of the SEC and NCAA tourneys, and he brings his network and knowledge to bear on marketing the premier ACC event in Durham. As a Triangle resident - with degrees from UNC and Duke - he brings great enthusiasm to the job, too. This is our media release from Tuesday:

The Durham Bulls have tapped baseball media executive Lee Folger as Tournament Director for the ACC Baseball Championships. The annual tournament returns to Durham Bulls Athletic Park next May, and the team has a four-year commitment from the Atlantic Coast Conference to host the event through 2018. 

Folger, most recently, was President and Publisher of Baseball America, a Durham-based media company. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Lee has worked in sales/marketing and executive management positions for numerous media organizations including Reed Business Information, Curtco Media, The Red Herring, and University Directories. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife and two children.

"I am delighted Lee will be leading our team. He is highly regarded for his knowledge and enthusiasm for all things baseball," said Casey Steinbacher, chair of the tournament's Local Organizing Committee and CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. "This is a statement about Durham's formidable commitment to the tournament and to becoming its long term home." 

"Lee has built strong ties throughout the baseball world over the past fifteen years," said George Habel, Vice President of the Durham Bulls. "His expertise and connections will be invaluable as we grow this annual event in our community. As a Triangle resident with degrees from two ACC universities, he shares our vision for what the tournament can become here."

The 2015 ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park begins on Tuesday, May 19 as five days of pool play get started. The tournament culminates with the Conference's Championship Game on Sunday, May 24.

"I am thrilled with this opportunity to showcase ACC baseball, Durham and the Triangle region to the entire country," said Folger. "The DBAP has been a venue for many historic moments, in professional and amateur baseball, and I look forward to ACC Baseball Championships that are memorable for fans, players, coaches and the community."

The ACC Baseball Championship has been held in Durham eight times previously, including three of the past five years. In 2013 in Durham, tournament records for single-game attendance (11,329) and championship game attendance (8,697) were set. The 2013 championship drew 58,454 fans, the fourth highest total in league history.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bull Durham | A New Musical

I must confess that I was in Atlanta Saturday night for a musical. While the Governors' Cup Championship series was winding down in Durham, I was at the off Broadway premier of Bull Durham - A New Musical. The Bulls came up short - congratz to the PawSox - but the show received a standing ovation.

Yes, I'm biased. This new Bull Durham is a wonderful extension of the iconic movie. The stage characters compare favorably with the movie stars. It's raucous (and still R-rated.) The choreography is energetic. (Men dancing with baseball bats is something to behold.) There are several memorable songs. Big fun!

Here's a review from Variety. I'm inclined to believe it suggests the show has potential for Broadway next year. Critics are paid to be critical, but remember, the audience was on its feet at the end of the show. Check out the chatter on Twitter at #BullDurhamMusical.

Alliance Theatre photo, more pix

Alliance Theatre photo

Hank Aaron & wife Billye were honored before the show.

Bull Durham's creator Ron Shelton chats with Aaron. 

Composer-lyricist Susan Werner at the keyboard.

Even the caterer represents the Durham Bulls.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Inside the Governors' Cup

Here's yet another reason to love working at Capitol Broadcasting Company:

I assumed that we could grab a satellite feed of tonight's Bulls-PawSox game from Pawtucket for MeTV, but it proved difficult. So, with a modicum of internal debate, we dispatched a TV5 satellite truck and intrepid engineer Tony Gupton to RI. 700 miles on I-95 and 11 hours later...problem solved!

As we defend our 2013 Governors' Cup Championship this week, I leave you with two more pithy tweets:

Join us at the DBAP Thursday night as the championship series moves from Pawtucket to downtown Durham.  


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Social (& antisocial) Media

What a week of cyber highs and lows!

We were deeply honored - and downright giddy - on Monday when Good Morning America aired a video clip of our Diamond Cutters dancing grounds crew. 

Facebook likes climbed to 59,000 by week's end with a similar number of views on our YouTube channel. That's fifteen seconds of fame to savor! 

From boom to bust: That blissful broadcast was followed on Tuesday by a viral video of Centerplate CEO Des Hague kicking a puppy. Centerplate is the giant food service company that manages our concessions at the DBAP. Of course, we were the brunt of some antisocial social media. We renounced the act, the actor...and our lawyers are talking. We are on the side of canines. The Bulls hosted three Bark in the Park events to benefit Second Chance Pet Adoptions this season, and we helped Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue with a fund raiser. The Hague issue is still roiling. An online petition to oust him had 156K signatures at this writing.

Wanting to end this social media commentary on a positive note...
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon has made Internet history raising $101mm as of Friday. I was on the board of the NC association for ten years, and I have a great affection for the patients, families and their advocates at the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Chapter where donations have topped $205K. "Everyone is just blown away. We are feeling very grateful for this unexpected surge of support," per an email from chapter CEO Jerry Dawson. What if this cash infusion sparks breakthrough research that identifies the elusive cause of ALS...and that leads to a cure for this cruel disease? That is the true potential and power of social media!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Simply stated, we hosted the 27th Triple-A All-Star Game to brag on the renaissance of downtown Durham. Now that the five-day baseball festival is over, I can brag on our staff. 

GM Mike Birling and the Bulls' front office did a fantastic job of extending southern hospitality to our guests - the players and baseball execs from over thirty cities - and entertaining 25,000 attendees. 

They staged twelve public, private and media events in five days, managed the host hotel and ran a transportation program for our visitors. Their hallmarks were creativity, hospitality and dedication - dedication to the Bulls, the event and their co-workers. It paid great dividends!

That first shot of a capacity crowd at the DBAP was taken from a drone last Wednesday evening as the International League All-Stars prevailed over the Pacific Coast League's best, seen nationwide, on the MLB Network.

The Home Run Derby and All-Star game were SRO. The Fan Fest and Blackwell St. Block Party exceeded our expectations. The private events at Washington Duke Inn, Cameron Indoor Stadium and the historic Durham Athletic Park will be long remembered for moonshine tasting, the Duke mystique and Ed Mitchell's barbecue. 

THANK YOU to our title sponsor,
 Durham's global manufacturer of LEDs, CREE.

The Bulls have been universally complimented for raising the bar for this annual event. I'm reminded that my first Triple-A All-Star Game was in 1998 at Norfolk, and the gala was held on an aircraft carrier at anchor in the Hampton Roads harbor. It's very gratifying that we might have topped that in downtown Durham last week! 

Big Fun. Hard Work. Great Outcome. Thanks for coming!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Belting a Homer

I hereby convene Cree Triple-A All-Star Week in the Triangle! I am anxious to get underway.

Fan Fest Saturday. Block Party Saturday evening. Home Run Derby Monday. Open work-out and autograph session Tuesday. The Cree Triple-A All-Star Game Wednesday night. Click here for details.

My favorite All-Star Week accoutrement (that's French for bling) is the Championship Title Belt that goes to the Home Run Derby winner on Monday night. Tim Campbell, an assistant ticket manager gets the credit. It was his job to come up with the trophy. Inspired by championship wrestling - a great southern pastime - he commissioned this belt. And he sourced it in the southern hemisphere! It was handcrafted in Australia by Darren Hall of Championship Gold. I wanted a selfie with the belt, but I could barely lift it...

Buckle up! And partake of the All-Star festivities in Durham.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bulls on FM @ 99.3

We are expanding the reach of Bulls’ flagship AM radio station the FM band. 

The heritage Bull City station (The Buzz | 620 AM) has a strong daytime signal in central and eastern NC, but at night – when most Bulls games are played – it’s beset by interference.

The Federal Communications Commission has authorized us to improve our coverage with two FM translators – limited power transmitters designed to serve a single community. One will cover Durham and the other will be beamed at Raleigh listeners. The first station our engineers have powered up is 99.3 covering Raleigh.

Program one of your radio pre-sets to 99.3. You’ll get all of the Buzz sports programming: Mike and Mark (The World’s Strongest Morning Show), Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, Dan Le Batard, Duke University sports and CBS Sports Radio.

Stay tuned for more info on the Durham translator later in the summer. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Remembering D-Day

The highlight of my weekend was Friday night's first pitch ceremony. 94 year old Dub Karriker, wounded on Omaha Beach in the 1944 D-Day Invasion, brought the heat!

Click here for the video

Local attorney Patrick Byker introduced me to the Karriker family and suggested the first pitch idea. I was all in on the D-Day observance, but skeptical about the toss. Au contraire! Dub has good genes and a baseball pedigree. A Babe Ruth coach for almost 60 years, he's in the League's Hall of Fame!

The Purple Heart recipient and his wife of 71 years, Louise, live at the Durham Regent. They recently moved here from Arkansas to be closer to family. 

It's no surprise that Dub received a standing ovation Friday evening. Thanks for your service and welcome to Durham!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bulls on Parade

The Bulls had a sell-out Saturday night, and the weekend got even better on Sunday morning when I opened the paper...

That Durham Bulls logo was seen by 63 million people! Parade claims to be the most widely read magazine in America. 

Many of our fans were surprised that the story featured a Little League team in Woburn Mass...but that isn't out of the ordinary. Youth baseball teams all across the country wear our gear. The Bulls' insignia is among the most popular, and team apparel accounts for better than 25% of our retail sales. It's the result of a national licensing program, instituted 23 years ago, by Minor League Baseball. Total sales exceed $55 million for all MiLB teams. That's a lot of baseball caps and t-shirts!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summer Reading

Excitement on the loading dock this afternoon! Our long delayed shipment of Bull City Summer books arrived - from the printer in China. 

It was worth the wait. This is a high quality edition from Daylight Books in Hillsborough. They specialize in photography books, and their expertise is evident in this volume.

If you pre-ordered the book last year, it's finally available for pick-up at the Ballpark Corner Store. Thanks for your patience. Otherwise, you can purchase BCS for $49.95, and enjoy the book's 200 pages of photography and prose - a chronicle of 2013 in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

This is the companion book for the BCS exhibition at the NC Museum of Art. The show expands to additional venues in May - Raleigh's Contemporary Art Museum and the Crowe Lobby Gallery on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham.

This project was really an artistic experiment from the start.  Only thirteen months ago none of the documentary materials in this book even existed:  None of the photographs had been made nor the writing done.  I'm grateful to the dedicated artists on our team, to Daylight Books, to our partnering museums NCMA and CAM Raleigh, and especially to our sponsors - Triangle Orthopaedics, Capitol Broadcasting, the Bulls, and Baker Roofing - for believing this was possible and helping make it happen.

Sam Stephenson, Director
Bull City Summer

Thursday, April 3, 2014

App of Awesomeness

We premier a new smart phone app today: MiLB Inside the Ballpark. This is the Swiss Army Knife of apps! 

It's your digital ballpark companion for stats, replays, venue maps, menus and social media - all in one place.

This news release provides a full explanation along with the download links. Don't leave home without it!


“MiLB Inside the Park” App and Frontier Communications-Powered Wi-Fi
to Enhance In-Stadium Experience at Newly Renovated Durham Bulls Athletic Park

DURHAM, NC – The International League Champion Durham Bulls today announce a brand new mobile app and improved Wi-Fi capability for the 2014 season. The “MiLB Inside the Park” application specifically focuses on enhancing fans’ experience within Durham Bulls Athletic Park, providing visitors with an ability to interact with game entertainment elements, team social media accounts, and stadium maps on game day. To better serve “Inside the Park” users and mobile activity throughout the DBAP, the Bulls have partnered with Frontier Communications on a comprehensive upgrade to the stadium’s Wi-Fi system.

Available in both the iOS App Store and on Google Play, the MiLB Inside the Park app provides fans with an inning-by-inning feed of all entertainment, game information, contests, and special offers. The app includes an interactive map of the newly renovated DBAP, which allows visitors to explore new concessions areas and view menus available at each location. Fans can earn points and climb a virtual leaderboard within the app by interacting with Bulls social media accounts and other fun activities, like voting for the winner of the Bull Durham race. Inside the Park also provides access to live replays of game highlights, the promotional events schedule, and ticket purchasing links. The new ballpark-focused app serves as a companion to the MiLB First Pitch app, which provides fans with in-depth team stats and the live Gameday pitch-by-pitch tracker. To download the app, simply search for “MiLB Inside the Park” and select Durham Bulls as your preferred team.

Frontier Communications, the official Wi-Fi provider at the DBAP, customized the stadium’s new wireless network to help support unique in-game features, particularly the ability to provide live, high quality replays on mobile devices. Frontier’s team of nearly 200 Durham-based employees will provide the equipment and backhaul capacity for the Wi-Fi network, as well as 24 hour support for end users.

“There’s nothing like a game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park,” said Bulls General Manager Mike Birling. “Our new app serves to enrich that experience, and with Wi-Fi connectivity that is unparalleled in Minor League Baseball, fans will be able to interact with us on game day like never before.”

The Durham Bulls open their Governors’ Cup title defense at the newly renovated Durham Bulls Athletic Park today, April 3, versus the Gwinnett Braves. Group tickets and picnic areas for the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby can be purchased now by calling 919.956.BULL ext. 2.  Season Ticket and Mini Plan packages for the 2014 season, which include the ability to secure Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby tickets, can be purchased by calling 919.956.BULL or visiting Tickets for Opening Day, presented by 605 West, are on sale now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jackie's Landing

A new feature of the renovated DBAP - my favorite - is a 10,000 square foot concourse on the third level of the ball yard. It offers a spacious "overlook" of right field with Jackie Robinson Dr. as its southern boundary. Hence, we have named the new gathering place Jackie's Landing

You will find southern fare atop Jackie's Landing - a new barbecue joint and fish camp. And you can watch the game from an old fashioned section of bleachers. The 42 Bar is situated in the middle serving up craft beer and spirits.

To commemorate the Robinson tribute, we commissioned a painting by Raleigh artist Pete Sack. He creates colorful images in the style of vintage trading cards. Drawing baseball players as a kid sparked his interest in art. He went on to earn a BFA in painting at ECU, and his fascination with the National Pastime persists.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Durham: Smartest Place on the Planet

The Durham Chamber held it's annual meeting last Thursday, and it was a celebration of the community's intellectual capital. I was just glad to be in the Sheraton Imperial ballroom with the really smart people.

The Chamber has established a Bull City Hall of Fame with these three inaugural inductees: Mary-Dell Chilton, a plant biotechnology pioneer at Syngenta in RTP and recipient of the 2013 World Food Prize; Duke's Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, a 2012 recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry; and Blake Wilson, co-director of the Duke Hearing Center who received the 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. He's a leader in cochlear implant research. International acclaim for world-class scientists!

As part of the Research Triangle - what I like to say is the “smartest place on the planet" - we compete regularly and successfully with the likes of Nashville, Boston, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area...for companies, jobs and talent. 
And that means we don’t have to defend Durham, or protect it from the slights of others. Rather, we need to promote it, to take pride in what we have, and be passionate about Durham as the great place to live, work, learn, and play. I know you join me in that.

Michael Schoenfeld
Outgoing Chair of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
Vice President for Public Affairs & Government Relations
Duke University

Friday, March 28, 2014

Men (& Women) at Work | Double Shifts & OT

I'm a desk jockey, a lifelong office worker. Heavy lifting is confined to my coffee mug and telephone handset. So, I've gained immense respect for the hundreds of tradespeople and construction workers transforming the DBAP during the off-season. The weather has been hard on them. Over 50 days of inclement climate has disrupted their work…but we're in the homestretch now, galloping to the finish line, Opening Day, April 3rd.

Under the direction of our General Contractor, Lend Lease, and VP Mike Higgins, THANK YOU to the…

electricians, carpenters, welders, painters, pipefitters, roofers, ceiling installers, masons, plumbers, ironworkers, heavy equipment operators, sheet metal workers, drywall installers, steelworkers, road pavers, concrete finishers, glass glazers, flooring installers, painters, landscapers and cleaners.

That's a long list, but I'm sure I overlooked a trade. My apologies. We appreciate your dedication to the DBAP makeover.

Our official construction photographer, Chris Adamczyk, shares these photos of men and women at work on the ball yard - our modest tribute to their labor: