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Baseball Landmark Could Help Bring Development to Bull City

Posted August 9, 2007

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— Even with its fading colors and peeling paint, the Durham Athletic Park is still a symbol of Americana.

"The DAP, to me and a lot of folks, is what minor league baseball was in its heyday," said Bill Miller, one of the original groundskeepers when the ballpark was the Durham Bulls' home more than 10 years ago.

Now, the facility, which graced the big screen in the 1988 Kevin Costner film "Bull Durham," is poised to become home base for a national training facility that could help spur economic development in and around the ballpark.

"I think there's going to be a lot of private investment unleashed with what we're doing," said Alan DeLisle, Durham's economic development director.

DeLisle said the city has worked out a deal with Minor League Baseball to make the DAP its national training facility for umpires, groundskeepers and baseball broadcasters for 160 teams.

Don Etheridge, a representative for Minor League Baseball, said the organization would also bring championship and all-star games to the Bull City.

Local baseball teams, such as North Carolina Central University's, would also play on the field.

If the City Council approves the proposal, there would then be discussion about adding a baseball museum that, Etheridge said, could bring an estimated 200,000 people to Durham each year.

Improving the facility would cost an estimated $5 million – $1 million more than a 2005 bond designated for repairs. Work would include improving the grandstand, buying new turf, installiing new bathrooms and other upgrades.

Renovation could start as early as October and be complete by July 2008.

Under an agreement with the city, Durham would pay $35,000 a year to Minor League Baseball, which would pay for operational expenses, to manage the park. Durham would get 30 percent of any profits.

The City Council will vote on the measure at a meeting on Aug. 20.

14 Comments

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  • Steve Crisp Aug 10, 2007

    I also hope that they decide to completely revitalize the surrounding area. Durham really needs to provide incentives to tear down and rebuild everything east of Buchanan Blvd., south of Markham, west of Alston Drive, and north of 147. Just tear down most of it and start over.

    If they did that, even I would consider living there.

  • BR549-ssdd Aug 10, 2007

    Finally a good idea for the bull**** city. This may really be a turning point for the city's image. Oh be sure to enclose it with bullet proof glass!!!

  • OpinionOnEverything Aug 10, 2007

    This is great news for the Bull City! Durham is fast becoming baseball city with the Bulls, USA Baseball, our local teams, and now Minor League headquarters. A MLB Hall of Fame would top it all off!

  • wufpak7483 Aug 10, 2007

    The DAP IS minor league baseball to alot of people. The renovation and upgrade of the DAP is long overdue and will keep people coming to Durham, if for nothing else to see the DAP.

  • theandylarkin Aug 10, 2007

    Hopefully, someone other than Durham Parks and Rec will be in charge. The place is in the shape it is in now due to just plain neglect. The City of Durham does have water but you'd never know by watching a Legion game at the DAP.

  • NC is my home Aug 10, 2007

    Great use for the facility. They need to have an exhibit about the movie "Bull Durham" being made there! It would make the museum a real tourism catcher!

  • RaleighRob Aug 10, 2007

    This could be a very smart move for them. Training facility plus minor league museum plus use by local teams (like NCCU) would add up to some very good use to this historic landmark...and bring money and visitors to the city. Probably one of the wisest tourism-related investments a town or city around here has had.

  • lornadoone Aug 10, 2007

    I'm so glad to see that they want to do something worthwhile with the DAP. Growing up, our family always had season tickets to the games, and I have fond memories of the park. The DBAP is nice, but it lacks the character of the DAP.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 10, 2007

    Sue, I think it started with this story for ladyblue:

    http://www.wral.com/weather/story/1687849/

  • Sue Donym Aug 9, 2007

    I'm glad something good is happening with the DAP. I enjoyed going to games there more than I do at the new ballpark.

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