Day Trip to Durham
By: Matthew Preslar
Review from May 20, 2018
Durham Bulls vs. Indianapolis Indians
Our day trip to Durham happened to work into our schedule. To fully appreciate the DBAP (Durham Bulls Athletic Park), a person has to understand why The Durham Bulls franchise is so iconic. My wife and I watched the 1988 film BULL DURHAM the Saturday night before our Sunday game. This famous movie is what makes the minor league franchise a nationally known entity, in which the people of Durham have much pride.
Part of the adventure is the drive. Near the DBAP is the original Durham baseball stadium, the one featured in the movie, Durham Athletic Park. From what we could see from the road (with the stadium locked up), it is a traditional baseball stadium with bleachers and covered grandstands. It’s quite an experience to see the stadium in person and to relive that history after watching the film. The Bulls left this stadium when the DBAP was built in 1995. It is still used by North Carolina Central University. Seeing this stadium was a great appetizer to the main event right across town.
DBAP is a beautiful facility, so well maintained we couldn’t tell it is 23 years old. There is ample parking, many restaurants, and a lot of life around the stadium. Visitors experience so much baseball even before going into the stadium. The sidewalk featured plaques with facts about the team such as affiliates over the years. One brick wall outside the main entrance displayed retired numbers featuring Chipper Jones and the fictional “Crash” Davis. The main entrance itself made me feel like was walking into a baseball fan’s sanctuary. It has the most attractive and inviting entrance we have seen. The DBAP also has the most extensive team store. They sell practically every hat and shirt you could imagine, plus gift sets. Options were so plentiful, any fan can dress in support of the team. Pre-game store hours allowed us to maximize our time in the ballpark once gates opened an hour before first pitch.
We continued to be impressed from the moment we entered the stadium. The concourse featured a wide selection of food options. Bull Durham Beer Company actually brews in the stadium but several other craft and local breweries also sold their own drafts. As we walked around to our seats, we noticed so many people wearing Durham Bulls merchandise, more than any other stadium we have visited. This was exciting to me as a baseball fan. I like knowing I am at a game where the crowd actually roots for the home team. We could tell that Durham fans have a lot of pride for their team.
The playing field has several unique features. Perhaps the most noticeable feature is a 30’ tall blue left field wall. There is a large video board on this wall featuring stats and other information on the current batter. The continuously changing videos really keep the fans engaged with the action and build a connection to the team. Just like from the movie, there is a bull atop the left field wall that says “Hit Bull, Win Steak”. The Bull’s tail wags when the home team hits a home run. The stadium itself is built in a booming area of the city which creates a beautiful back drop from every seat of the stadium.
Everything about this facility and the surrounding town was first class. On our outings, we are always looking for a future place to call home. So far, Durham ranks incredibly high on our list.
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK
TICKET VALUE 10/10
- Seats/ Lawn section as low as $7.99
- Our seats down right field line behind home team bullpen $16.99
- All around stadium, including concourse behind centerfield, with great views of field and unique ways to watch the game (see pictures)
- Many restaurants surrounding stadium - even before you go in the gate
- Wide range of local & craft beer selections, including BULL DURHAM BEER CO, which is actually brewed in the ballpark
- Non-customary options such as BBQ, Hushpuppies, Tacos & Tequila Stand, fresh fruit stands, stations with mixed drinks
- $5 Souvenir Soda Cup
- $7 All You Can Drink Cup
- $7 Beer
- Express Order Pick-up APP... order food on app and pick up at the concession stand without waiting in line
FAMILY FRIENDLINESS 4/5
- Our Sunday game was Wool E. Bull mascot's "Birthday Party" with several guests including mascots from: Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Duke Blue Devil, Ramses the Tar Heel, and more!
- Fenced-in play area secluded from the rest of park in top right of stadium, including a smaller scale merchandise store with kids items
- First-Aid stations
- Few gimmicks and between-inning contests; felt more professional with higher level baseball, and fans more focused on the game vs. children's activities and give-a-ways
- Fans displayed more pride in DURHAM BULLS than any other town/stadium we've visited has shown in their franchise
- Sunday evening game had over 8,800 in attendance - a huge crowd, especially for a night without any big promotions like fireworks!
- Stadium speakers did not carry all the way down the right field line, so we missed out on some of the music and announcements
- Restrooms conveniently located near our seats just into the covered concourse
- Several employees walking around with "How May I Help You?" Signs... Easy-to-Find Customer Service for visitors throughout the park
- Partially-covered, Split-level, 360 Degree Concourse rises up in Left Field to get over the 30' tall "Blue Monster" wall
- Full-color programs featuring rosters of visiting teams in homestead, plus more information on the home players
- Beautiful brickwork entrance
- Massive team store right at main entrance, open to the street with pre-game hours, and open on non-game days. Hours allow fans to shop before game without large crowds. Huge selection of shirts, hats, gifts and novelties
- Not a ton of identity with Tampa Bay Rays, but several retired numbers displayed near entrance, including BULL DURHAM movie legend: Crash Davis
- BULL DURHAM movie made this franchise extremely iconic, allowing the Durham Bulls to stand on their own identity vs needing to reply on the parent club.
- Glimpse of the Durham skyline and buildings in backdrop of ballpark
- More fans sporting team merchandise in the stands than any other park we have visited
- Large video board on left field wall, uniquely level with the playing field
- Street parking around stadium
- Several parking decks that serve hotels, restaurants and area attractions available for stadium parking
- Our particular parking deck was $6 and just steps from the stadium entrance