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Durham Athletic Park delays worry Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball says it believes it has lost at least $200,000 because of delays in renovating the city-owned Durham Athletic Park, made famous in the 1988 film, "Bull Durham."

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DURHAM, N.C. — Minor League Baseball says it believes it has lost at least $200,000 in revenues because of delays in renovating the Durham Athletic Park, which the Bull City owns.

That's according to a status report Durham city leaders released Monday. It also states that the organization believes the delays have affected the enthusiasm and support for the $5 million project and is concerned that others may think baseball helped cause the delays.

Minor League President Pat O'Conner's also expressed "serious concerns" with the quality of work, saying the "project is falling short of everyone's goals and expectations."

Field construction on the stadium had been expected to be completed by the end of 2008 and other work completed by March.

In the report, city leaders say the delays are mostly due to weather and change orders for "unforeseen conditions." According to the report, higher-than-average rainfall from August to October meant delaying sod installation until the end of February.

City Manager Thomas Bonfield will meet with O'Conner Wednesday to talk about the concerns.

"The bottom line is that we are on the same page when it comes to doing the construction as originally planned and making sure that it is the highest quality," Durham city spokeswoman Beverly Thompson said.

"We want to make sure that we listen to them and that they listen to us and that we are on the same page and that we want this to work for both parties. It's a win-win."

When asked Monday if the stadium's delays could jeopardize the project or other potential plans, such as a national Minor League Baseball museum next to the stadium, O'Conner said he did not want to make specific comments until after Wednesday's meeting.

He said he is only concerned now about getting the park finished.

The Durham Athletic Park, which has been in the community since the early 1900s, was home to the Durham Bulls from 1926 to 1994.

The ball park gained national prominence when it was 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 Durham Athletic Park has been used as a community venue for local baseball and softball leagues.

The restoration of the Durham Athletic Park, long known as the DAP, is expected to include a state-of-the-art playing field, as well as an upgrade to the infrastructure, restrooms, concessions and seating.

When the project is complete, the DAP is expected to serve as a grounds-keeping training facility that Minor League Baseball will operate and maintain. North Carolina Central University's baseball team will also use the facility for home games.

Durham city leaders hope the renovated park will help spur economic development in and around the area.


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