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|Year ||Total ||Rank *
|* Durham's total attendance ranking in the 14-team International League (1998-2016) and the 8-team Carolina League (1995-97)
Everything written or compiled on this page was done so by Graham Knight following a baseball pilgrimage to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on August 10-11, 2011. All pictures were taken on those dates.
Comments about Durham Bulls Athletic Park can be made at the Baseball Pilgrimages Facebook page, which has a section dedicated to the ballpark.
Sources for ballpark historical information available upon request.
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| Durham Bulls
||Triple-A Affiliate of the Rays
It's not easy to replace something legendary but Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP for short) succeeded in doing that by becoming an impressive in its own right sequel to Durham's original Athletic Park, the estimable one featured and made famous by the film Bull Durham.
The brick and blue beauty that opened in 1995 infused life into the city's now thriving American Tobacco District and has a setting and backdrop that's about as good as it gets in minor league baseball. The downtown ballpark is bordered on its third base side by revitalized buildings once used in the tobacco trade and all of the outfield is framed by a pair of "Diamond View" office buildings that allow DBAP to have a big city feel even though Durham itself isn't really a big city. The ballpark's signature piece of flair, the mechanized bull, doesn't disappoint. The big "Snorting Bull
" is in left field, where the wall is a "Blue Monster." Both tall and wide, the wall was designed to mimic Boston's Green Monster, so it also includes a manual scoreboard. A ball must only travel 305 feet to bounce off Durham's Monster and if a Bulls batter clears it or any other outfield fence the mechanical bull celebrates the homer, most notably with smoke billowing from its nostrils. The smoking bull is one of many things to admire inside of the Bulls' ballpark, but plenty of effort was put into the areas with no view of the playing field. A fully brick facade makes a good looking first impression while a history lesson awaits at each gate and in the concourse, as placards, plaques and banners detail baseball's past in Durham, where the current ballpark is a two thumbs up hit.
Sitting alongside the Durham Freeway, Durham Bulls Athletic Park is in the heart of downtown Durham’s American Tobacco District. The brick faced ballpark is hemmed in by brick buildings on three of its sides while the divided four-lane freeway parallels the first base line from a distance that is just a long foul fly ball away. The lengthy expanse of brick warehouses for which the district is named are only a city street removed from the ballpark’s third base facade. Long used by the American Tobacco Co., the warehouses were shuttered in 1987 and revived in 2004. Collectively referred to as the American Tobacco Campus, 11 restored buildings are on the 16-acre site that contains plenty of places to eat, drink and shop, and even has a riverwalk. The inclusion of the “Old Bull River” makes the campus feel like a mini version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Less majestic and historic but just as prominent on the ballpark’s backdrop are the “Diamond View” office buildings barely beyond the outfield. The four-story Diamond View I is in right field. It opened in 1998 and is most notably home to the local FOX TV affiliate. Rising behind left field is the five-story Diamond View II building, which was completed in 2008 and features the popular Tobacco Road sports bar on its first floor. Behind Diamond View II is the Durham Performing Arts Center, yet another destination for things to do in a district that has plenty to offer.
It's also worth mentioning that two legendary sports venues are nearby. Cameron Indoor Stadium, of Duke University basketball fame, is just 3.5 miles west of Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which is a mere 0.8 miles south of Durham Athletic Park, the longtime home of minor league baseball in Durham that was immortalized in the movie Bull Durham.
The ballpark is right next to Highway 147, more formally known as the Durham Freeway, a north/south route from which you want to take Exit #12 if coming from the South or Exit #12B when coming from the North. It’s a straight shot from Exit 12B to the ballpark, as you exit the freeway onto Jackie Robinson Drive, which goes right by DBAP. The Exit 12 route is slightly less direct, but you just need to take a left on Roxboro Street (heading towards the City Center District) then turn left onto Jackie Robinson Drive and the ballpark will be a short distance ahead on the right.
There’s no traditional big parking lot at the stadium’s doorstep, but there is plenty of parking available in all directions just outside of its main gates. You don’t have to pay for a space if you arrive in time to grab one of the parallel parking spots that are alongside the ballpark on Jackie Robinson Drive. Those are limited, but there’s lesser known about free parallel parking spaces available on Blackwell Street on the other side of the Highway 147 overpass. Parking is available under the overpass, but it’s a permit only lot run by the team. There are three parking garages in the area. Each is named for their compass location within the American Tobacco District. The one closest to the ballpark is the South Parking Deck, which is the best place to park, based on proximity and price, for the majority of fans. The South Deck is pretty much across Blackwell Street from DBAP, obscured only by the Fowler Building, one of the many old brick and glass windowed warehouses that have been revitalized to make the American Tobacco District an historic one. There’s one other lot worth noting and it’s the first one fans arriving from Hwy 147 will see. Found at the corner of Jackie Robinson Drive and Magnum Street is an auto dealership and for night games they’ll generally allow any automobile to park in their surface street lot for the same fee that the South Deck charges, which is $4.
Ballpark Details & Features
Outside | Interior Design/Decor | Seating | Amenities | Odds & Ends
(Click on the icon to see a picture of a specifically detailed part of DBAP on our page)
The ballpark has a redbrick facade that's accented with green steel and topped with a green roof. Attractive in its own right, the facade was patterned after the neighborhood's pre-existing redbrick tobacco warehouses and extends well down Blackwell Street and Jackie Robinson Drive, meeting at the intersection of those two roads to form the park's signature curved main entryway, upon which white lettering spells out the ballpark's name.
The box office is on the third base side of the ballpark. It has nine tickets windows, with four of them reserved for Will Call.
The ballpark has three public entrance gates. Two (A & B) are behind home plate, while Gate C is in left field. There's also a special "Season Ticket Express Entry" at third base.
Excepting the season ticket entry, signage posted at each gate briefly details historical facts about the Durham Bulls and important people/things associated with them. The tidbits include write-ups on the team's various names, ballparks and leagues, Joe Morgan, Judge William G. Bramham, and the mechanical Snorting Bull. An example of one such tidbit, posted at Gate B, is:
"JOE MORGAN -- The only Durham Bulls player thus far in the Baseball Hall of Fame (Ace Parker is in the NFL Hall of Fame), second baseman Joe Morgan batted .332 with 20 doubles in his 95 games with the Bulls in 1963. He was the National League MVP in 1975 and 1976. The Bulls retired his #18 jersey in 1993."
The concrete sidewalk alongside and near the box office is inlaid with a series of brick pavers. Each contains numerous reddish personalized fan bricks and a light-colored square centerpiece stone that's engraved with names and accompanying descriptive text for selected individuals who have been locally important to baseball's past. The portion of the sidewalk that contains the brick paver squares is officially known as the Walk of Fame.
Interior Design & Decor
The concourse is behind the grandstand until it reaches the outfield, where it's elevated well above the playing field. The concourse is always wide along its 360-degree path, as is the cross aisle within the grandstand, and the second-story outfield portion is connected to the rest of the ballpark via stairwells in the outfield corners.
Banners that list every Durham Bulls division and league championship are displayed in a timeline manner near roof level of the main concourse.
Affixed to the walls of the first and third base concourse are a series of brass plaques that display the major league teams that the Bulls have been affiliated with. The years of each affiliation is listed beneath the logo of the team.
There are three bas-relief sculptures on the back wall of the main concourse. Done in brick, the murals are of Joe Morgan, Babe Ruth and a generic baseball/cultural scene that was presented to Durham as a gift from its sister city in Japan (Toyama).
The bullpens are down the outfield lines and what the pitchers sit in actually resemble dugouts, sans the roof, as both are dug into the dirt warning track in foul territory. The Bulls' bullpen is in front of section 120 and the visiting team's is pretty much a part of the group Bull Pen picnic area far down the left field line. Pitchers warm up from mounds that are in foul territory and throw towards the infield.
The left field wall is referred to as the "Blue Monster." Painted navy blue, it's 32 feet high but just 305 feet from home plate. The wall is made of a weatherproof wood. Although the lengthy left field wall has been a part of the ballpark since it opened, the current structure was built prior to the 2012 season.
Two large scoreboards are posted upon the left field wall and two small ones can be found at field level next to the dugouts. The mini boards are basic, like what you'd find at a Little League field. The scoreboards on the Blue Monster are big and stacked on top of each other. Keeping with the Fenway Park theme in left field, a manual scoreboard is at the base of the wall and it's where the game's line score is updated by operators that are stationed inside of the wall. Directly above the hand-operated scoreboard is a modern video board that shows player stats and line-ups.
Digital time and pitch speed displays are on each side of the outfield lawn. The clock is affixed to the brick wall at the top of the berm in right-center field, while the MPH readout is embedded in an ad billboard that hangs off the edge of the "Blue Monster" wall in the left-center field power alley.
There's a light bank on the roof of the brick office building in right field, a placement which mimics the lights that are mounted onto the roof of the brick warehouse in right field at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Overall, Durham's ballpark has just six light standards. Having two less than the traditional eight-tower system enables DBAP to fit in with its surroundings better by making it stand out less from the neighborhood it's in.
Similar to Houston's Minute Maid Park, a semi-circular notch protrudes outwards from the outfield concourse in deep left-center field. On its brick facing is a notable neon sign that says Goodmon Field, which is what the name of the actual playing field has been since 2007.
The team store can't be missed if you're entering the ballpark through its main entrance behind home plate. Called the Corner Store because of where it's placed, which is at the corner of Blackwell Street and Jackie Robinson Drive, by design all who enter through Gates A & B are led right to the Bulls' shop, which has a huge selection of stuff for a minor league team, especially shirts and hats that sport the famous team logo.
All fixed seats are stadium-style and painted blue. Most are contained within the main grandstand, which is not quite symmetrical. It extends slightly further down the right field line than the left. Sitting on the right half (first base side) of the grandstand definitely provides a better backdrop. Fans sitting there are looking out at the buildings, Blue Monster, and bull that give the ballpark its uniqueness.
The box seats in the 13 field level sections (100-112) behind and between the dugouts have handrails between most of their rows. That's not something you really see anymore, but such was the set-up in some of the classic ballparks, like Comiskey Park and old Yankee Stadium.
A cantilevered roof provides some cover in the grandstand. Ceiling fans hang from the green metal roof that covers most seats in upper grandstand sections 200-208. Beginning in 2012, the Bulls started referring to those nine sections as "Terrace Reserved Covered." So if you want to be protected from the rain or sun, buy your tickets in one of the covered sections, the higher up the better if wanting to ensure afternoon shade.
Plenty of seating is available in the outfield -- 2,014 seats to be precise. They're all in right field, where there are six sections with a varying number of rows, the most being the 19 in the section (134) that's furthest from the foul pole. The tapered outfield seating sections in Durham bear some resemblance to those in the same spot at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, which opened five years after DBAP added seats in right field.
A very limited amount of lawn seating is available in straightaway center field, on the hill just to the right of the landscaped shrubbery that serves as the hitters’ backdrop. There's also a much smaller patch of grass on the left-center field side of the shrubs, but it's normally off-limits to fans and is essentially set aside for TV camera operators as the only generally used thing in that portion of the berm is a wooden camera platform that's directly behind the outfield fence.
The berm isn't open for every game, as it's closed when very small crowds are expected. Conversely, the usually closed left side of the grassy knoll is open when more space is needed for overflow crowds.
The ballpark has 11 suites, which the team still refers to as sky boxes. Flanking the press box, the sky boxes come in three different sizes, accommodating 15, 20 or 30 people, and most have balconies with stadium seats.
Covered party decks begin where the suites end. The first base and third base side decks can each hold groups of 60 to 120 and both areas are open-air, even though they are on the same level as the enclosed structure that holds the suites and press box.
Private group picnic areas are in both outfield corners. Two are in left field -- the Bull Pen can handle groups of 60-90, the Corral's range is 60-120. In right field, the multi-level Picnic Area has a minimum capacity of 100. Additional group areas can be found in right field. The Home Run Patio is essentially a covered porch that's behind outfield sections 124 and 126. In the main grandstand down the right field line are a dozen Terrace Boxes that were built into the upper two-thirds of sections 216 and 218. Each Terrace Box has two tables and can hold 12 people.
The famous Snorting Bull is behind the Blue Monster wall in left field, where it's supported by steel beams in a fan plaza that contains cushioned deck furniture. Made famous by the movie in which it was designed for as a prop, the current bull is a larger replica of the one that was used in Bull Durham but it functions the same. When the Bulls win or hit a home run, the double-sided mechanical bull snorts smoke while its tail wags and eyes light red.
On top of the team store is a ritzy mini bar called the MVP Club. Furnished with plush furniture and flat screen TVs, it's for members only. So regular fans aren't allowed inside the glass-walled confines of what looks like a small hotel bar.
A kids' area is on the concourse in the right field corner. Named after the Bulls' mascot, Wool E. World is well appointed with playground equipment and games.
Two open-air seating areas overlook what's outside the ballpark from spots on the concourse that are just off to each side of home plate. They're there so people can eat and drink in a comfortable setting right after going to the concession stands, which are all behind the grandstand.
Plexiglas panels installed at the top of the Blue Monster allows patio diners at the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe a unique spot from which to watch the game. The sports bar is separate from the ballpark, which does not have its own restaurant, but there's only about 10 feet of space between the see-through glass and the patio area of Tobacco Road, which opened in April 2010.
Odds & Ends
The Bulls' dugout is on the first base side of the field.
All first base side sections are even numbered.
Surprisingly, there's minimal mention of Bull Durham inside of the Durham Bulls' ballpark, although maybe that shouldn't be too much of a surprise since the movie was filmed on location at the Bulls' previous ballpark. There is a movie poster displayed in the team shop, but that's pretty much it.
(A full gallery is viewable on the Baseball Pilgrimages' Durham Bulls Athletic Park Facebook page)
|Durham's ballpark is blessed with beautiful backdrops, a blue monster and bull. Seen in the photo on the left are three historic structures that are a part of the historic American Tobacco Campus: the Lucky Strike water tower and smokestack were built in 1930, while the shimmering silver tobacco conveyor spans brick warehouses that, in some instances, are over a century old. Big and blue define the tall wall (right) that spans left field inside the ballpark. Known as the Blue Monster, it's 32 feet high and just behind it is the "Snorting Bull" of Bull Durham fame. Seen in the background behind the ballpark's two signature features is one of the two outfield-based steel and brick Diamond View office buildings.
Getting a new ballpark built to replace what was generally regarded as the most famous one in minor league baseball history was no simple task. In fact, it took many years to move the Durham Bulls from Durham Athletic Park, the setting and itself a star of the 1988 movie Bull Durham, into Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which is just 0.8 miles from its still-standing hallowed grounds predecessor.
By the time the movie debuted on June 15, 1988, the Bulls’ days at the DAP were numbered. The beloved old ballpark was quite old, having opened in 1926, and too small, as business boomed thanks to Hollywood. The antiquated confines of the approximately 5,000-seater needed to be replaced, then owner Miles Wolff and local officials decided for various reasons, and by 1989 a plan to build a nearly 10,000-seat ballpark had emerged, with the hope that the ballpark would also revitalize the part of downtown Durham where it was envisioned to be placed – next to the big brick warehouses that had been abandoned by the American Tobacco Co. in 1987.
A special countywide referendum was held on March 14, 1990, when voters decided whether Durham County should sell $11.28 million in general obligation bonds to finance the proposed ballpark. It turned out, the majority of voters (58.9%) felt the county shouldn’t. And so, by a 12,984 to 9,051 count, the Bulls were stuck in a ballpark that would officially be deemed deficient in December 1990, when Major League Baseball issued an edict requiring minimum standards for minor league baseball facilities. By and large, old Durham Athletic Park failed to meet the new standards.
By the beginning of the 1991 season, baseball in Durham appeared to be on the verge of disappearing. That’s because Wolff, who had revived the Bulls in 1980 after a nine-year hiatus, sold the team to Jim Goodmon, a Raleigh broadcasting executive who desired to move the Bulls closer to North Carolina’s capital city and thus make them a regional team.
But that never happened, as a proposed baseball-soccer complex referred to as Triangle Central Park was never built primarily because too many government entities (4 city, 3 county) needed to cooperate to fund the ambitious project.
Finally, on May 21, 1992 the Durham City Council stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and voted 12-1 to build a new ballpark for the Bulls, essentially reviving the plan that Durham County voters had nixed just 26 months prior. The Council got around the popular consensus by opting to fund construction through the issuance of “Certificates of Participation,” a type of bond that doesn’t require voter approval. So no referendum was held, although the certificates were backed by public property as collateral.
To design their public asset, Durham choose the national firm of HOK Sport, fresh off having completed Baltimore’s Camden Yards, and the Durham-based Freelon Group, which was founded in 1990 by locally prominent architect Philip Freelon. The two firms collaborated to design a ballpark that would fit in an eight-acre plot that the city had bought for $1.5 million.
With the pieces in place to finally keep the team in Durham, the Bulls signed a 20-year lease with the city on September 3, 1992. The terms of the original lease called for the team to pay $150,000 annually in rent plus 4% of gross revenues over $3.25 million to the city, which was responsible for the repayment of the Certificates of Participation, which totaled $10.97 million in principal and ballooned to $19.25 million when interest was included.
At the time, the Bulls were a Class A team, but the ballpark was intended to be bait from the get go for a securing a Triple-A franchise, so the city included a clause that capped their expense at $1.5 million in case the ballpark eventually needed to become Triple-A compliant.
Ceremonial groundbreaking took place on April 24, 1993 and the new ballpark was scheduled to open in 1994. However, construction was costlier than planned as bids to build the ballpark totaled about $5 million more than what was budgeted. That bumped the price tag of the ballpark from roughly $11.4 million to $16.1 million and delayed its opening by a year, thereby buying the city more time to figure out how to pay for the cost overruns (adding a 25-cent ticket surcharge was one way) while preventing the need for construction crews to work overtime on what would’ve been too tight a timeline.
Instead, contractors were given an extra 12 months to finish what would finally get a name on March 20, 1995, when Durham’s City Council selected Durham Bulls Athletic Park as their choice over Bull City Ballpark in a 7-5 vote. Those two names were plucked from seven finalists – out of 49 names considered – by the Council. The names of the passed over five finalists were: Bull City Athletic Park, Bulls Athletic Park, Durham Bullpark, Durham Bulls Ballpark and Durham Bulls Park.
So while naming the ballpark, financing it and building it wasn’t easy, the Durham Bulls finally got their Hollywood fairytale happy ending when Durham Bulls Athletic Park opened on April 6, 1995.
During its inaugural season, DBAP had a capacity of 9,033 and ticket prices ranged from $4.25 to $6.25 for adults. The place originally had 6,340 actual seats, a dozen sky boxes and thousands more could sit on the grassy embankment in right field. All areas were filled frequently enough that the Bulls turned a tidy profit of $4.65 million in 1995 and the city received a lease bonus check from the team after the season for $55,997.
In 1998, as hoped for, Durham was awarded a Triple-A franchise and the Bulls were upgraded from the Class A Carolina League to the International League. To coincide with the classification change, the right field lawn at DBAP was mostly replaced with actual seating sections to increase the ballpark’s capacity to the Triple-A minimum of 10,000.
On September 6, 2007, a sign was unveiled in center field to visibly name the playing field after Jim Goodmon, done so because of his contributions to the city of Durham and to baseball. The City Council officially voted to name it Goodmon Field five months earlier, an honor made in large part because of Goodmon 's investment in the adjoining American Tobacco complex, an even bigger success story than the across the street DBAP and one which helped transform the entire ballpark area into the year-round place to be in downtown Durham.
A now popular place to be inside the ballpark was added in 2008, when fans were given the opportunity to sit or stand behind the “Blue Monster” wall in left field for the first time thanks to the addition of a pavilion that was built atop the blue Fenway Park replica wall, filling the space between it and the just-opened Diamond View II building.
Until 2009, fans couldn’t completely walk around the DBAP. That year, a stairwell was added connecting the 32’ high elevated left field pavilion to the street-level third base concourse. The stairwell’s addition gave the ballpark one of the few popular modern amenities it had lacked: a 360-degree concourse.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park Facts, Figures & Footnotes
Construction cost: $16.1 million
Financing: The City of Durham issued Certificates of Participation in 1992 in the amount of $10.97 million as the primary means to fund the fully paid for by the public ballpark. Due to cost overruns, in 1993 the city took out a $2.2 million loan from their water and sewer fund and decided to implement a 25-cent surcharge on tickets. Money received from sky box rentals was also used to pay off ballpark debt.
Architects: HOK Sport (lead) and The Freelon Group
Construction manager: George W. Kane Co.
Groundbreaking took place on April 24, 1993.
Owned by the City of Durham.
Was built on an eight-acre site that was previously a parking lot owned by the pharmaceutical firm Glaxo.
350,000 bricks were used to build the ballpark. They were all supplied by Durham-based Triangle Brick.
The name for the ballpark was chosen by the Durham City Council during a meeting on March 20, 1995, which was a mere 17 days before Durham Bulls Athletic Park officially opened.
The playing field has been officially known as Goodmon Field, in honor of Jim Goodmon, since April 5, 2007, when the Durham City Council voted to name the field after the man who bought the Durham Bulls for an estimated $2 million in 1991.
Originally had a capacity of 9,033 and was expanded to 10,000 for the 1998 season, the Bulls' first in the Triple-A International League. A capacity of 10,000 is the supposed Triple-A minimum, although six ballparks at the minors' highest level hold less than that (Colorado Springs, Las Vegas, Omaha, Reno, Tacoma, Toledo).
Although the listed outfield distances to the left and center field fence (305 and 400 feet, respectively) have remained the same since the ballpark opened, the distance to right field has been slightly shortened to its present 325' from its original measurement of 327'.
The Blue Monster is not as contrived as one would think. Original plans called for an 8-foot high left field fence to be about 325' from home plate, but when construction work began crews realized that the renderings didn't account for the presence of a street that would have to be closed to make a normal distance possible. Since neither closing Dillard Street nor altering its path was possible the distance to left field was shortened by 20 feet. To compensate for the short porch, the wall there was made to be 24 feet high. In 1998, the Monster got a little taller when it was raised to 32 feet and it has remained at that height ever since.
Since 2010, the DBAP has been the primary home for the Duke University baseball team, although the Blue Devils still play many of their games on campus at Jack Coombs Field, which opened in 1931.
Georgia Tech defeated Duke, 10-5, before an announced crowd of 1,029 in the first collegiate game played at the park on April 9, 1995. The starting and losing pitcher for Duke that day was Scott Schoeneweis, who pitched in the major leagues from 1999-2010.
Has hosted the ACC Baseball Championship tournament five times -- in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2009 and 2011. The 2013 ACC tournament is also scheduled to be played in Durham.
Since a lease agreement was reached in 2004, USA Baseball has been headquartered at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. USA Baseball is the national governing body for amateur baseball and also selects the roster for the USA World Baseball Classic team. The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, the one best known as Team USA, plays exhibition games every summer at DBAP, which has been their home field since 2003.
First game: On April 6, 1995, the Lynchburg Hillcats beat the Durham Bulls, 6-2, in front of 10,886 fans
First pitch: Thrown at 7:51 p.m., it was a foul strike
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt to Walt Sorgi, who was a catcher for the Durham Bulls in 1945.
Other official ballpark firsts (all of which occurred on 4/6/95, unless noted):
|Pitch ||Batter ||Hit (single) ||Home Run ||Winning Pitcher ||Losing Pitcher ||Save (4/13)
|Maurice Christmas ||Jeff Conger ||Lou Collier ||Wonderful Monds ||Sean Lawrence ||Maurice Christmas ||Matt Byrd
Durham Bulls Athletic Park Photo Gallery