Next year at this time, Martie Cordaro’s job will be to duplicate what Durham Bulls officials did while putting on Wednesday night’s Triple-A All-Star Game.
The president and general manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers, his team has been awarded the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game.
So he’s been taking notes while observing and taking part in events here this week. Wednesday night, while 10,274 fans were watched the International League All-Stars beat the Pacific Coast League All-Stars 7-3 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Cordaro revealed what feeling he’ll take back home to prep for next year’s game.
“Intimidating,” Cordaro said. “And I mean that in a positive sense. The support staff, I made a joke today, that it’s almost like there’s two or three of each of the Bulls staff. They’ve been on top of everything.”
Officials all 29 of the other Triple-A franchises came to the Triangle this week for the sports biggest event. From the Washington Duke Inn, which served as the main hotel, to downtown locales that were part of Saturday’s All-Star Block Party, the city put forth a hospitality effort that impressed.
“It’s been absolutely fabulous,” International League President Randy Mobley said. “The team has exceeded all our expectations, which we thought the would do. The executives have been blown away by the hospitality.”
The way Bulls officials were able to put on a good show despite a heavy rainstorm the last time Triple-A baseball officials gathered at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 2012 helped bring the All-Star Game.
Unlike that rainy night when the Triple-A National Championship game was held at the DBAP, dry, temperate weather allowed Triple-A officials to see the rest of what downtown Durham offered.
“The take on that (night) was, while we were at the ballpark and while we were seeing things here, things went extremely well,” Pacific Coast League President Branch Rickey said. “But we had a hard time getting anywhere dry. This time has been a much fuller exposure to a broader spectrum of of what is encompassed all around.”
The DBAP has seen $20 million of improvements in the time between the 2012 Triple-A National Championship Game and Wednesday night’s All-Star game. Improved lighting, new video boards, expanded luxury suites and new concession offerings are now part of the DBAP.
“It was a good ballpark,” Cordaro said of the DBAP before renovations. “Comfortable. Good. Even borderline great. Now it is fantastic. It really is fantastic. The commitment of the community and the local government has along with the Bulls ownership group...Look at it. It’s evident.”
Earlier Wednesday, the baseball executives took side trip to a venue renowned for a different sport. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium was the site for a luncheon where DBAP public address announcer Tony Rigsbee, former big-league manager Jack McKeon of Burlington and author John Feinstein were the main speakers.
The league executive and club employees spent plenty of time gazing at the banners hanging from the rafters, commemorating all the great Duke basketball players and teams over the years.
The Coach K Court logo was also a popular photo subject.
“It was a huge hit,” Mobley said. “You look for the host committee to do something unique, something that puts their stamp on the week. You couldn’t get any better than that. You are not going to get that anywhere else.”
A Louisiana native who admits he’s not a big college basketball fan, Cordaro nevertheless said being in the home of Mike Krzyzewski’s basketball program was special.
“All of us in the sports world, whether it’s competition on the field or off, it doesn’t matter,” Cordaro said. “We all strive to win. There are very few excellent models. But that’s one. Pretty neat event for them.”
Triple-A baseball’s brass will return to North Carolina in September when the Charlotte Knights hold the National Championship Game at their new ballpark. Then it will Omaha’s chance to shine at Werner Park in suburban Papillion, Nebraska one year from now.
Cordaro said he saw plenty in Durham to emulate.
“We all do things a little different,” Cordaro said. “We are really proud of Werner Park. We look forward to bringing this event to town. We are humbled to host it and to show Storm Chasers brand of minor-league baseball.”