Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the heart of downtown Durham, North Carolina is home to the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball. It’s also a place I highly recommend visiting if your travels bring you to Durham during baseball season. The legendary baseball team and staff create a family-friendly entertainment event that’s second-to-none.
I was afforded the opportunity to get a behind the scenes glimpse of this spectacular ballpark. A simple re-tweet of a Durham Bulls tweet promoting GoGo SqueeZ Fan Day and I was entered into a contest for me and a child to win a VIP Experience at the park. I NEVER win contests so you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted as one of the lucky chosen ones!
From start to finish, the day at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a home run.
Bulls Swag Bag
To start, each child receives a swag bag.
Everybody loves a good swag bag and these are filled with some pretty awesome stuff. There are all kinds of cool premium items, including the latest flavors of GoGo SqueeZ Blastz as well as a team cap and a replica championship ring. I can’t resist trying the ring on and let me add, it’s a substantial piece of jewelry!
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Behind The Scoreboard
Next up, we take a stadium tour. Our tour begins with a visit to the dugout followed by a trip to the outfield to get the score keeper’s view. We go into the wall behind the manually operated scoreboard. The same person has kept a tally for all but one of the past 21-years the Bulls have been playing in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP for short).
The original stadium made famous in the 1988 movie Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins, is still standing, but the team moved to the 10,000-seat Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 1995. Nonetheless, the old-style method of keeping track of runs, hits, and errors remains harkening back to years gone by.
Moving on, our tour travels to some pretty swanky areas of the park. We get a peek into the PNC Triangle Club. This chic seating area situated behind home plate furnishes members with a first-class sound system, private bar, premium dining options, and great full glass views of the field. Membership in the PNC Triangle Club is an exceptional and exclusive way to enjoy the game.
Next, we journey to the press box and operations areas of the stadium for a quick look into what goes on behind the scenes to make a day or evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park run smoothly and become a seamless success.
The Owner’s Suite
Completing our exploration of the VIP seating areas, we enter the owner’s suite. Since 1991, the Durham Bulls team has been owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company. Capitol President, Jim Goodmon, had a hand in the suite’s design, including the tradition of having a barber in the owner’s suite. Our crew is fascinated to learn of the custom as well as the fact there’s a barber on duty at each Bulls home game. Now, that’s a cool place to get your haircut!
Wool E. Bull
Wool E. Bull, the world-famous mascot, debuted in 1992 and is for many the face of the team. This beloved mascot is ubiquitous on game day and a fan favorite with children and adults alike. It’s an honor and a thrill meeting this furry favorite and for my son to get his autograph.
You may wonder what the “E” stands for, I’m told the “E” is for education. That’s a smart bull, for sure!
Bulls Batting Practice
After meeting the famous Wool E. Bull, it’s time to sit back and watch batting practice. The Durham Bulls are the reigning Minor League Triple-A Champions so watching these athletes take their swings from behind the dugout is pretty impressive. I hardly notice the heat of the summer temps because I’m distracted by the heat of the players’ bats. Smoking hot!
Post-batting practice, the kids are treated to a meet and greet with a couple Bulls players. What a rush to have a ball, cap or program signed by one of the Durham Bulls. It’s also a rush for some parents as well.
Catch On The Field
We then venture to left field, grab some baseballs, and play catch. It’s thrilling throwing the ball around on the lush green grass of Goodmon Field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It’s a one-of-a-kind photo op too.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park Food
After completing our tour, my son and I work up an appetite. No trip to the ballpark is complete without sampling the food. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park features an array of food choices. There’s tacos, burgers, hot dogs, Italian ice, pizza, pretzels, BBQ – you name it, there’s something for every appetite. We can’t resist trying Makus Empanadas, they’re a home run choice!
Durham Bulls Baseball
The Durham Bulls is arguably the most famous minor league baseball team in the country. The team is consistently good and the entertainment at a game is non-stop from the moment visitors enter the stadium.
This night the Bulls do not disappoint. With the score tied in the bottom of the 8th inning, Micah Johnson hits a grand slam propelling the Bulls past the visiting Syracuse Chiefs. As a result, the crowd goes wild, the eyes of the bull in leftfield light up, and smoke surges from its nostrils. Further adding to the excitement, the VIP experience is capped off when our merry group is escorted to the visitor’s dugout to watch post-game fireworks.
Minor League baseball is a great option for full family entertainment. When in Durham, a trip to see the Bulls play at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a high point certain to create precious memories for you and your family. I know I was taking as many mental pictures that day as real pictures.
Have you been to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park to see a game? Let me know about your trip to see the Bulls in the comments below.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
409 Blackwell Street
Durham, North Carolina 27701
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- Thanks to the Durham Bulls and GoGo SqueeZ for a fun contest and a fun day at the park!