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Landmark Durham Athletic Park reopens

Posted August 16, 2009

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— After months of renovations, the Durham Athletic Park reopened Saturday with a game of softball instead of the baseball that made the stadium famous.

Durham politicians, area baseball coaches and former minor and major league ballplayers squared off on the diamond Saturday afternoon. The celebration also included appearances by baseball and college mascots, a children's play area and free food for attendees.

“The grand opening our beloved Durham Athletic Park is an exciting day for our community since this historic landmark holds a special place in the hearts of Durham residents,” Mayor Bill Bell said in a statement. “The Durham Athletic Park has been an integral part of this community since the early 1900s. This long-awaited renovation will allow it to once again serve as a vital recreational site for Durham."

The DAP was home to the Durham Bulls from 1926 to 1994. It gained national prominence as the backdrop of the 1988 Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon film "Bull Durham."

Since the Durham Bulls moved to the 10,000-seat Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 1995, the DAP has been used as a community venue for local baseball and softball leagues.

Durham spent $5 million to renovate the DAP, installing a state-of-the-art playing field, as well as an upgrade to the infrastructure, restrooms, concessions and seating.

Minor League Baseball will use the city-owned stadium as a training facility for groundskeepers. North Carolina Central University will play home baseball games there as well.

“The vision of the citizens and community leaders to make this possible speaks well of their affection for the DAP. Minor League Baseball is honored to be a part of such a landmark’s restoration and feels privileged to be entrusted with the operation of such an important part of professional baseball’s history,” Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner said in a statement.

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