Exploring Durham - Sports venues

Durham plays for sports events
May. 17, 2014 @ 06:59 PM

This month Exploring Durham is looking at Durham as a destination, and all the ways it excels for groups and meetings, from banquets and family reunions to conferences and conventions to sporting events.

There was no way a Japanese Zero fighter plane could fly to Durham from the Pacific theater of WWII. However, Pasadena, California, was a different story, and as home of the Rose Bowl, it was credibly threatened. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military banned all large gatherings on the West Coast, including California's annual Tournament of Roses. Because Duke's football team had already been invited to play Oregon State in the Rose Bowl game, the game was played in Durham on Jan. 1, 1942. The 56,000 tickets sold out in three days.

Duke lost that football game with a score of 20-16, but Durham may have won the long game.

Fast forward to 2014, and Durham has some chops as a sports destination with facilities capable of hosting multiple types of athletic activities. Facilities available include indoor arenas, stadiums, fields, courts, and pools -- there is even a dedicated fencing club.

The community has a proven track record hosting major sports events -- from the aforementioned Rose Bowl, to the USA-USSR Track Meet, to the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament, to the Special Olympics World Summer Games and the NCAA Golf, and Track and Field Championships. Last year Durham hosted the ACC men’s baseball tournament ,and coming up in Durham July 16 is Minor League Baseball’s Triple-A All Star Game. Hosting this game presents a significant vote of confidence in the destination. The just-completed $20 million in renovations to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park rendered the facility among the top in its class providing an exceptional visitor experience.

That breadth and scope of space, combined with the history of successful events held in the community previously, positions Durham ideally for growth. Destinations with the strongest track record in hosting sports events are strategic about attracting groups that meet in shoulder or off-season times -- in particular, youth sports events that tend to meet on holiday weekends.  This timing makes travel and visitation ideal for teams and their families, who fill venues and visitor features at times when occupancy is lower. The result is a win-win for the destination.

Durham is very versatile and has steadily made a name for itself as a place where great sports happen.

Did You Know?: Duke University's Wallace Wade Stadium at 35,000 seats has the largest seating capacity of any sports facility in Durham.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is Durham’s official marketing agency. For more information about things to see and do in Durham, visit www.Durham-NC.com and www.DurhamEventCalendar.com, or stop by the Visitors Information Center at 101. E. Morgan St. in Downtown Durham and pick up the Official Durham Visitor & Relocation Guide.