Durham expecting boost from big-time baseball
Posted September 6, 2012 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2012 7:31 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — For the first time in the seven-year history of the game, the Triple-A National Championship will be held east of the Mississippi River as the Durham Bulls Athletic Park will host the winners of the Pacific Coast League and the International League on Sept. 18. While the game will be a boost for baseball in the area and to the local economy.
From restaurants to hotels to game tickets themselves, traveling fans and interested locals will all be contributing to the Durham economy.
America's pastime often goes hand-in-hand with dinner time. King’s Sandwich Shop enjoys a link to both as it sits directly across from the former home of the Durham Bulls, the ballpark made famous in the movie "Bull Durham." Banking on that fame, owner T.J. McDermott hopes that traveling fans will venture beyond the newer DBAP to visit the old Durham Athletic Park and enjoy the visit with a bite to eat.
"It was synonymous with the old Bulls, and the old ballpark," McDermott said of his restaurant, which closed down briefly before reopening two years ago. "I think it's just great for Durham, the fact that we have a facility where we can have a game like this."
The game will be broadcast nationally and more than 7,000 tickets have already been sold. Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said that he hopes to sell out all 10,000 seats and put Durham on display.
"That's our big goal is to really showcase the Triangle and showcase the Bulls and the stadium for a national TV audience," Birling said. 'I think it's going to be fun because people are going to get a chance to see some of the teams they don't usually get to see here at the DBAP.”
The attention will also be on Durham the city and the whole Triangle area. The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the game will pump about a half a million dollars into the local economy.
"There is a great opportunity anytime you have an event of this caliber and this stature where you are bringing in a lot of national media for people all over the country to say 'gee, I never thought about Durham, that looks like a very interesting place,’" said Shelly Green of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.
On display will be a place with rich sports traditions that go back for generations. The Durham Bulls won the Triple-A National Championship in 2009.
"I think there will be a lot of people that come down and that know the history, perhaps, of Durham and the history of baseball in this town," McDermott said.
The affordable ticket prices and first-rate entertainment are also a draw. Tickets for the game range from $7-15 and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery will sing the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".