Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Making of a Miracle

I’ve done a good many construction updates on Twitter about the Durham Miracle League field, but I want to detail this odyssey that began way, way back in 2016.

The Durham Bulls Miracle League Park is nearing completion. It’s a worthy but very challenging project that’s been percolating for six years. From its inception, the Bulls and parent company Capitol Broadcasting have championed the ballpark for special needs kids.

Background/Double vision. Miracle League of the Triangle is well established in Wake County, but their board’s vision is to serve all of RDU. That meant a field in Durham. They approached Capitol for support.

And then came double vision! Capitol’s VP Michael Goodmon was determined that the field should be in downtown Durham - with proximity to the DBAP, American Tobacco Campus and the American Tobacco Trail - on a vacant lot at the corner of Blackwell Street and Morehead Ave. He envisioned a mini-DBAP with brick and steel flourishes, canopied bleachers, a replica Blue Monster and snorting bull.

The need. State of NC stats indicate that ten thousand children with physical or mental disabilities live within a fifteen minute drive of downtown Durham. The Miracle League field will provide a first class recreation option for participating families.

Great idea. Even greater challenges. There has been delay upon delay, over ancient utilities beneath the site and a complex lease process with the federal government. Then came pandemic delays. The final body blow: our contractor unexpectedly passed away and the company shut down.

Help is on the way. We did receive funding from the City of Durham for the utility work, the Durham Housing Authority threaded the needle with HUD for a lease on that vacant lot, and now a new general contractor, Bobbitt, is at the helm. Also, Miracle League of the Triangle secured a grant from the NC General Assembly, and about $2.3 million has been raised from generous corporate, foundation and individual donors.

Uphill battle. Despite the progress noted above, construction costs have skyrocketed - a 44% hike. So, we still have a funding gap. It’s like we are being held at third base when we could be sprinting to home plate. (If you are reading this, maybe you can help us slide into home? Let’s talk…

Lessons learned. Despite the setbacks, this project sits upon multiple pillars of inspiration: SERVICE to the Miracle League players and families. The VISION that started it. The GENEROSITY that followed. And PERSEVERANCE, something Miracle League families live out every day. 

In that spirit we carry on and aim for a fall opening of the Durham Bulls Miracle League Park.

These guys are an inspiration! Miracle League’s leadership visits the site. Left to right: Founder Tony Withers, Board member Paul Carr, Founder Robin Rose, Executive Director Benjy Capps. It’s an honor to be in their company…dedicated to the cause…passionate about Miracle League!

Construction progress, July 29, 2022, 
drone shot from Scott Strickland