Durham Bulls - 7
From Joe Morgan to Chipper Jones, the Durham Bulls have been host to a lush history of baseball folklore. The kids and I were excited to take our first trip a few miles up the road to this historic franchise. Somewhere in the back of my head I was expecting to see Ebby Calvin LaLoosh hurling the ball like Fernando Venezuela and the lava lizards of the Galapagos Islands. Or maybe see Crash Davis arguing with the umpire behind the plate. We had big hopes for this ballpark and couldn't get there soon enough.
We had been looking forward to the Bulls game all week. We even bought a Papa Johns pizza to take advantage of the $10 ticket discount at the gate. It does't get much better than a Sunday at an old fashion, historic ballpark for only $10 a ticket. We left our house hoping to get there about 45 minutes early and take in all of the majestic ambiance. The ballpark is located in downtown Durham in the tobacco district. For parking you can either brave the downtown or park in the parking deck for $5. Put your hiking shoes on and head to the stadium. You will need to make your way through the mall and another building in order to pop yourself out on the street right by the entrance. By now my 6 year old is already asking me to carry him and we have gone to the bathroom twice. My 6 year old personally gave the parking at the Durham Bulls a 5 on the Family Friendly Scale (FFS).
The old fashion ballpark that we thought we were going to see must have picked up and left town. We were greeted by what we thought was the entrance to a local museum. Fountains, sculptures, and modern architectural design. The entrance to the field was beautiful! We stopped for a quick pic and to pay homage to Crash Davis, Chipper Jones, Joe Morgan, Bill Evers, and Jackie Robinson before we made our way to the ticket booth.
The excitement of learning that tonight was Lego Night could only be deflated by one thing...no more Papa Johns tickets. I do not know the exact number, but I am guessing that arriving 45 minutes early to nobody in line means that there were probably only 2 Papa Johns tickets to begin with. If you are banking on that promotion, get there EARLY! I sprang for the Diamond Seats because the boys really wanted to sit in home run alley. We purchased our tickets in section 128 for $15 a piece not really knowing what to expect but more on that later. On the FFS the ticket prices scored an 8. Papa John tickets would have been nice, but the prices are still very good for this quality of baseball.
I would highly recommend entering the stadium at the home plate entrance. Not only can you get a quick photo opt at the fountains, but the team store (Corner Store) is on the lower level right when you walk in. Using the native language of a 6 year old, "This is epic man!" There was a lot of clever merchandise. I didn't see just the usual t-shirt, sweatshirt, hat arrangement. Many shirt were on sale and not just the flesh colored size extra small. The hat selection was epic (now he's got me doing it). If you are a hat connoisseur like myself, you will love this selection. The Bulls are great with their brand and know how to market it on a cap. I decided to go with the Veteran's Day special blue with desert camo. You can see a picture of the hat below in the family photo at the park. I paid $20 for the hat. Did you hear me? 20 bucks for a New Era cap. Now that's a great deal. After getting my little man's tiny wooden bat for $6, we headed into the park. The store was a little tiny, but made up for the size by the quality of goods and the price. We gave it a Family Friendly Score of 8.
As mentioned above, the Bulls logo is one of the most recognizable logos in baseball mostly due to the popularity of the movie and the fabled history of the characters that played at the park. The Bulls were wearing their white uniforms with a dark cap. Not too flashy, but with a logo like that...who needs to be. The boys gave the logo and uniforms a 8 on the FFS.
Food is one thing that you will not find a shortage of in this ballpark. The Durham Bulls have everything that you can imagine. Your average American baseball park usually has two main concession stands with a few small cart vendors. Athletic Park will give you the choice of their common concession stand, Moe's, Chick-Fil-A, BBQ, and much much more. I love a Chick-Fil-A sandwich so that was the first stop on our food tour. I was excited when I got there because there appeared to be no line. My excitement quickly left me when I remembered that today was Sunday. It felt like Christmas morning with no presents. We went next door and got a cheeseburger and fries for $10 and probably what is the best deal in the park, the souvenir soda cup for $8. You can take this cup anywhere in the park and fill it up for free. 1 cup for a family of 3...not bad. We also stopped by Moe's for some chips and queso to finish our meal. We headed back to the party section to eat and watch the game. The burger and fries were really good and well Moe's was Moe's. I will always remember almost eating Chick-Fil-A at the Durham ballpark. We gave the food experience at the Bulls park a 9 on the FFS.
Like we do after consuming mass amounts of soda, we headed for a quick stop at the washroom. Nothing to fancy here, but I will say that the one we visited was clean and did not smell that bad. Compared to Wrigley Field this was the Four Seasons. The boys decided that a FFS of a 6 was deserving.
PEANUT MAN more than anything. This is a guy that when he shouts PEANUTS you can hear him in Tampa. Very funny! We gave the overall hype experience a 6 on the FFS.
Our review of the Durham Bulls Athletic Field is a mixed one. On one hand, we loved the overall atmosphere and vibe of the ballpark. The stadium was absolutely beautiful. The food was spectacular and there was plenty of things for big and little "kids" to do. On the other hand, the same reasons that we liked the park are the focus of the issues we have against it. Why can't we just go to watch a great baseball game? Do we live in a society in which we now have to be entertained while we are being entertained? My oldest son had the comment of the night. "The Durham Bulls is a cool place to go if you don't care about watching a game." Overall we scored the Durham Bull experience as a 7 on the FFS. This is not a bad score at all and in our eyes easily changed by putting less focus on partying and more on family baseball. We are really looking forward to heading back next year...in different seats.
Regarding the philosophies of Crash Davis, I am not sure that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone but I do believe there should be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I also believe that the things that made baseball great is slowly going away. I would love to get some opinions in the comments below. Has baseball become too commercial? Are we too focused on getting people into our seats that have no desire to watch baseball? What happened to the games of a 1 to 1 pitchers battle with an occasional home run? Oh well, my boys and I will let you decide for yourself. So until next time Meat, don't let fungus grow on your shower shoes. See you in the batter's box!
|Family Friendly Score|
|Out of Park EXP||9|