Local News

Officials Ponder Future Of Durham Athletic Park

Posted January 18, 2005

— The crowds may be gone, but there is still magic at the old Durham Athletic Park. Now, city officials are trying to decide what to do with the ballpark.

"They had a tall, right-field fence and I hit a few home runs over the fence," said Artis Plummer, who played as a shortstop in the Negro League between 1945 and 1962.

The place became a hit with the Durham Bulls. Then in 1987, the Durham Athletic Park went from the minor leagues to the majors. The ballpark became the setting for the 1988 movie "Bull Durham."

"We didn't think they knew what they were doing. We thought the movie was going to be a flop," said former Bulls owner Miles Wolff.

Wolff said the DAP is an important part of the city's past, but since the Bulls moved out nearly 10 years ago, the place has fallen apart.

"You go down to the field and see the grass torn up. The pitcher's rubbering shredded and the home plate with a depression around it," he said.

About four years ago, the city paid $80,000 to repaint the park and do other cosmetic upgrades, but to get it in good, working order would now cost the city $1 million.

"Its plumbing is bad. Its electrical work is bad. The interior and exterior are bad," said Beth Timson, of the Durham Parks and Recreation Department.

The city is now looking for ways to turn the park around. They are considering restoring it for Little League play or for college ball. They may also turn it into a museum.

The city does use the park for certain festivals during the year, but those do not bring in enough revenue to keep the place operating. Any plan for the DAP will have to be approved by the City Council.

If you have a suggestion about what should happen to the DAP, there are four public input meetings in January. There is one scheduled for Wednesday and another set for Thursday. There are also two meetings next week. All of them start at 7 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation building at 400 Cleveland St.

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