Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Review by Gary
Durham Bulls Athletic Park is located in downtown Durham, North Carolina and has been the home of the Durham Bulls since 1995. This stadium should not be confused with the legendary and nearby Durham Athletic Park, where the Bulls became internationally famous following the release of the 1988 movie Bull Durham. Members of Triple-A East, the Bulls should be proud to call DBAP home, as the locals call Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The stadium and surrounding public spaces are both very inviting venues to visit and explore. Mike and I visited this ballpark as its was celebrating its 20th anniversary during our 2015 Carolina road trip.
DBAP is adjacent to, but not officially part of the American Tobacco Historic District, which features a tobacco factory complex. Among the many historic structures, built between the 1870s and the 1950s, is the original tobacco drying barn built by the American Tobacco Company. Original signage advertising Bull Durham tobacco and a smoke stack with Lucky Strike cigarettes are notable landmarks to the company that was once the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the US. The complex now features these refurbished buildings with numerous restaurants and shops. The sidewalks run alongside a concrete aqueduct of running water that adds some pizzazz to this once-rundown part of town.
The most notable feature of DBAP is the giant bull sign atop the left field wall and stands. The sign was modeled after the one used at the old park in the movie and blows smoke out of its nostrils whenever a Bulls player hits a homer and after every win. The left field wall features a massive 25’ tall and 63’ wide video board which was by far the largest field level screen I had ever seen. An interesting contrast to this huge television in the wall is the manual scoreboard just to the right of it.
An expansive roof covers about a quarter of the 10,000 seats at Durham’s stadium, from first base to third base. An unusually wide walking area separates the reserved field level seats from those climbing up to the covered seats. There are also a vast number of seating and standing room areas around the outfield that offer great views from atop the home run fence. I really enjoyed my experience at DBAP. I like when a team really connects with its fans and gets into the town’s history.
Something about this photo of Gary and Mike looks familiar, but I can't quite...
"A very nice ballpark in a very nice city, but my favorite part was all of the No Smoking signs in the converted Lucky Strike Cigarette Factory entertainment space (see background photo). Even better, each of the signs had a stylized image of the cigarette factory as a logo! Irony defined."
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film Bull Durham, the Bulls introduced their own version of a mascot race featuring the three main characters from the film: Racer Nuke LaLoosh, Racer Crash Davis and Racer Annie. Why the original Bulls mascot, Wool E. Bull, is not also racer is surely cause for a “60 Minutes” investigation.
While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the original Durham Athletic Park, which still stands and plays host to numerous local baseball games each year.
The Negro League Fact below refers to game action at the older Durham Athletic Park, not the new ballpark reviewed on this page.