Durham will build on its baseball history when the city's resident minor league team, the Bulls, hosts the annual Triple A-All-Star Game this July.
Held each year between minor league baseball's International League and Pacific Coast League, the All-Star Game is accompanied by a variety of festivities. Activities will run from July 12 to July 16, including tours of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, an All-Star block party and an exploration of North Carolina's baseball history. The game's high profile will draw many visitors to Durham and bring fresh publicity to the Bull City, said Scott Carter, director of marketing for the Durham Bulls.
"The Triple-A All-Star Game is Minor League Baseball’s premier event," Carter said. "It’ll be nationally televised on MLB Network. It’s simply the biggest event a Minor League team can hope to host, so we’re honored to have the game here in Durham."
This will be Durham's first time hosting the game, which was instituted in its current form in 1988. The All-Star Game has shown the ability to draw crowds that are particularly large for minor league baseball, sometimes reaching nearly 20,000, though trends for game attendance vary based on location, with greater attendance in larger cities such as Las Vegas and Portland, Ore. The possibility for a large audience in Durham is high, said Carter, noting the city's culture and love of baseball as potential motivating factors.
"Durham is the Bulls," he said. "The city’s love affair with this team goes back to 1902. We truly have one of the great fan bases in all of American sports."
Durham resident Joshua Parker said he is particularly excited about the All-Star Game. He has been following the Durham Bulls since moving to Durham in 1974 and described the Bulls as holding a special place in his heart.
"Baseball is more important to me than any basketball games that go on in the area," he said. "It takes me back to times when I watched the games with my dad. It was his favorite thing to do."
The Bulls have been a part of Durham since the beginning of the twentieth century, when they were known as the Durham Tobacconists. Since then, the team has won 13 league titles and 15 division titles. Although they have switched leagues, names and parks multiple times, they have maintained a continuous presence in the city.
The All-Star Game comes to Durham after an offseason in which the Bulls signed a contract to stay in town until 2033. Following the contract's renewal, a $19 million renovation of the team's stadium was completed, jointly financed by the team and the city.
"Durham Bulls Athletic Park is where the community comes together. It’s a special place that really reflects the vibrancy, diversity, and culture that makes Durham great," Carter said.
The game's arrival in Durham also falls a year after the 25th anniversary of the film "Bull Durham," which garnered national attention for the team upon its release in 1988. The Bulls' 2013 season was documented through photography and art in a project called Bull City Summer that is currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.
Jinnefer Ramos, another Durham resident and Bulls fan, noted the Bulls' loyalty to the city as a key part of her appreciation for the team.
"The Bulls make up a large part of what I see when I picture Durham. It's so integral to our image as a city—I couldn't imagine Durham without them," she said.