Durham Bulls Athletic Park

From BR Bullpen

  • Name: Durham Bulls Athletic Park
  • GPS-able Address: 409 Blackwell Street, Durham, NC 27701
  • Ballpark Owner: City of Durham
  • Architects: HOK Sport (now Populous)
  • Groundbreaking: 4/24/1993
  • Minor League Baseball Teams: Durham Bulls (AAA) 1998-present; Durham Bulls (A+) 1995-1997
  • Class/League History: AAA/International League 2022-present; AAA/Triple-A East 2021; AAA/International League 1998-2020; A+/Carolina League 1995-1997
  • First Professional Baseball Game: 4/6/1995; stadium debut of Class A Bulls
  • Others Playing or Operating Here: Duke University Blue Devils; North Carolina Central University Eagles
  • Previous Ballpark Names: None
  • LF: 303 CF: 395 RF: 329
  • Seats: 9,000
  • Stated Capacity: 10,000
  • House Baseball/Softball Record Attendance (as currently configured): 12,000, 6/15/2019

Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC, is the home of the Durham Bulls, the Tampa Bay Rays' Triple-A International League farm team. Opened in 1995, "The DBAP" (pronounced DEE-BAP) jumped from High-A when Durham landed an IL franchise created in the 1998 expansion.

That bumped the Carolina League team of Bull Durham (1988) fame from Durham, first to Danville, VA, and on to Myrtle Beach, SC, when that city finished a new ballpark.

That outcome was not mere happenstance. In 1980, Navy veteran and former Savannah Braves General Manager Miles Wolff acquired a Carolina League expansion franchise for less than $2,500. Within five years, in a city that had lost such a franchise 10 years before, his Durham Bulls were drawing 200,000 fans a year - unheard of for that level at that time. Along the way, a Hollywood producer joined Wolff's investors and the two soon discussed making a movie at Durham Athletic Park - then still the home of the Bulls. That would eventually happen, and Bull Durham drove the team into the stratosphere - the first Class A club ever to draw 300,000 in a year. Wolff wasn't stopping there. After the film wrapped but four months before its release, he pitched the city of Durham on building a bigger, state-of-the-art park expressly to bring Triple-A to town. One opportunity passed with the 1993 National League exansion, but then Durham got on board. The DBAP opened April 6, 1995, and landed Tampa's Triple-A expansion team three seasons later.

In 1991, Wolff had sold his Bulls - for $4 million.

HOK Sport (now Populous) designed the DBAP. The otherwise modern ballpark goes for a bit of quaint with a manual scoreboard, one of eight in the minors. Its 32-foot-tall left-field wall, the Blue Monster, is only 305 feet from home plate. It has a "hit-this-bull-win-steak" sign like the one in the movie, except it's in left field instead of right. The DAP never had such a sign until the script prompted building it as a prop.

A May 25, 2013, game at The DBAP set an important record without breaking the house baseball mark. The reported crowd of 11,392 was the largest ever to see a college baseball game in the state of North Carolina, as the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and North Carolina State University Wolfpack played for a berth in that year's Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game.

MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization greatly expanded existing standards for stadiums hosting affiliated teams. The city of Durham approved $10 million in 2022 for the necessary upgrades, most of which were finished by the 2023 opener.

The new Bulls tried staging annual throwback games at the DAP - now a working baseball field and museum - but stopped after two.


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