In the heart of basketball country, where legendary names like Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski are commonplace, stands a minor league baseball gem. The Bulls have been a staple in Durham since 1913 and have been rather infamous ever since the release of the 1988 feature film Bull Durham. Although you won't find Crash Davis and Nuke Laloosh here, you will find a baseball experience that will rival any other in Triple A Baseball.
In 1998 the Durham Bulls made the jump from the Single A Carolina League to the Triple A International League. Named after current Bulls owner and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting, Jim Goodmon, Goodmon Field is always referred to as Durham Bulls Athletic Park or D-BAP. As the Triple A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bulls have flourished boasting solid attendance and on-field success.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Durham Bulls Athletic Park boasts all of the expected ballpark fare. Peanuts, popcorn, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and soda are all available for purchase at very reasonable prices. There are a couple of unique stands as well. Papa John's provides the pizza. There is a Moe's Mexican grill which features burritos and nachos for around $7 a piece. There is also a BBQ stand called The Pit. The Brisket is good and the Carolina Q Dog with pulled pork is pretty good too.
What bumps up the mark for the D-BAP is the huge variety of beer that is available. There are numerous brands of beer, local and national, as well as a variety of stronger beers as well that are not normally available at ballparks.
Simply put, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a great place to watch a game. The exterior of D-BAP offers a nice red brick facade with a walk of fame. That walk of fame of course includes Crash Davis, the real one, who was the inspiration for the Kevin Costner character. Once inside, the sightlines are great and there are a couple of neat things to catch your attention.
One can't miss the giant Bull sign in left field. It snorts smoke and the tail wags on a home run. If a player hits the grass under the bull with a home run ball a lucky fan wins a salad. If the bull gets hit, then the prize is a steak. Directly underneath the bull is the Blue Monster; a giant blue wall, similar to the one in famous Fenway Park in Boston. The hand operated scoreboard is embedded in the monster, also similar to the home of the Red Sox. A nice green space covers centerfield and in rightfield is the kid's playground. There are picnic areas and general admission grass seating.
Recent improvements have made D-BAP a 360 degree ballpark, which is great for those who want to be able to walk around during the game. In the main grandstand, there are limited tunnels to the outer concourse, which allow patrons to use the inner walkway around the park, missing as little action as possible. It is in this inner walkway that you will find the Durham Bulls' organist; right out amongst the fans. A plethora of classical sports organ music is on the menu during a Bulls game.
In the concourse there are banners commemorating the various division titles the Bulls have won in both the Carolina and International Leagues. The 2009 Triple-A National Championship banner can be found here and is also commemorated on the Blue Monster for all to see. There are also displays for a couple of key players in Bulls history, most notably Joe Morgan.
The in-game experience is your typical minor league affair; there are a ton of promos going on. The Bulls had a run-the-bases experience after the game for the little gaffers. The one promo that caught my eye was the hat-head contest.
The neighborhood surrounding the D-BAP is quaint and quiet. It is clean and plenty of parking can be found in the adjacent parking garages. If you are a patron of the arts, Durham Performing Arts Center is right around the corner.
There are also a couple of great places to eat. The Cuban Revolution is a unique place with a very unique atmosphere. However, the true sports enthusiast will want to hit Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. Located with a patio that looks right out to leftfield, and right under the big Bulls sign, Tobacco Road is not your typical sports bar. The decor is pristine. You may choose to sit in the leather recliners facing the massive wall of television screens, or sit outside under the misters on a hot day. Tobacco Road features numerous local microbrews for the beer connoisseur.
Attendance for the Bulls is right in the middle of teams in the International League, averaging almost 6,400 fans. On the date of this review there were well over 7,000 fans in the house. The fans that were there were laid back and polite, but when the Bulls got going, they sure got loud!! When a team like the Durham Bulls and their strong attendance is in the middle of the pack, it helps to demonstrate the popularity of the International League.
Getting to Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a piece of cake. Located right by highway 147, downtown Durham features lots of parking at a good price. The damage was a mere $5. Street parking can be found if you work for it as well.
In the ballpark, the concourses were large enough and washrooms were abundant as well.
Tickets for the Bulls are between $7 and $9. This makes it an affordable family affair if you so desire. The prices for concessions are reasonable and the price for merchandise is also pretty good. Overall, the Durham Bulls are a solid day's entertainment and it won't dent your pocketbook.
An extra point for the team store. Although you won't find Bull Durham merchandise in the store, you can personalize your t-shirt with a #8 Davis, or a #37 Laloosh if you desire.
An extra point for tax free weekend in the team store!
An extra point for the original Durham Athletic Park, just a mile away. Durham Athletic Park was the home for the Durham Bulls for most of their years in the Carolina League, and was the place where Bull Durham was filmed.
If you are interested in baseball at all, then the Durham Bulls are a team that you need to see. It is a great atmosphere, in a great neighborhood, at a great price. You will not nuke your wallet, and you won't crash due to boredom. The Durham Bulls are a summer treat that you must see!
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280 S Mangum St
Durham, NC 27701
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