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Bulls try to keep games affordable

The Durham Bulls are holding the line on ticket prices this season and offering promotions to attract fans who can't afford to spend a lot on entertainment.

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DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham Bulls celebrated the nation's pastime Friday while noting the economic difficulties the nation faces.

The baseball team held its annual FanFest to kick off single-game ticket sales and announced a "9-Inning Vacations" promotion for people cutting back on entertainment spending during the recession.

The "vacations" combine a ticket to a Bulls game with items like a cap or a bag of peanuts for a total of $9.

"With people keeping back their money a little bit and not taking the longer vacations, what we are planning on is that they are going to come out here," Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said.

The team held the line on ticket prices this season, too. The most-expensive seats at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park are $9, while the cheapest seats cost $7.

Season-ticket sales haven't dropped much from a year ago, Birling said.

"(We) just try to keep it affordable because that's what people in the Triangle need," he said. "They've supported us for all these years, and now it's our turn to give back and keep things as inexpensive as possible."

At FanFest, anyone who bought a ticket received a free lunch of ballpark fare like hotdogs, fries and soda. They also were allowed onto the field to take a few swings in the batter's box or play catch in the outfield.

"The excitement is definitely in the air, just seeing the ballpark, seeing the field greening up," Birling said.

About 2,300 people attended FanFest, up from 1,300 a year ago, Bulls spokesman Matt DeMargel said. Tickets sales were up 22 percent from a year ago, and merchandise sales increased 20 percent, he said.

The team opens its season April 9 against the Norfolk Tides.

The Bulls are owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co., which also owns WRAL.


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