Durham to host 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game

Feb. 21, 2013 @ 07:44 PM

The three inches of rain that fell on Durham Bulls Athletic Park during the 2012 Triple-A National Championship Game wasn’t ideal for local fans or the grounds crew.

But it did wonders for the city in the eyes of Minor League Baseball executives, who saw a paid attendance of more than 8,000 and a field that could withstand the elements.

The memories of that night five months ago helped the Bulls land an even bigger prize Thursday – the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game, which will take place July 16.

It will be Durham’s first time hosting the event, which began in 1988. The Bulls have been a Triple-A organization since 1998.

“Eight thousand people came out and were soaked when they left but they certainly showed the community was invested in that event,” International League president Randy Mobley said of last year’s championship game. “In large part due to the success of that event, when that time came for the decision to be made for where we’d play the 2014 All-Star Game, Durham’s name immediately went to the top of the list.”

The game features players from every Triple-A team in the Minors and pits the International League against the Pacific Coast League. Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Mike Piazza are among the 77 Triple-A All-Stars who have gone to play in the Major League version. There will also be a home run derby.

“There’s no other stadium in this country that has such an iconic home run target as the famous snorting Bull,” Bulls general manager Mike Birling said.

The game itself is the culmination of five days of events that Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau President Shelly Green expects to bring $3.3 million in visitor spending –  slightly more that the $3.1 million generated by the average Duke University Graduation weekend. By comparison, Green said the 2012 championship game generated about $2 million.

The festivities will start with a three-day All-Star Fan Fest at American Tobacco Campus that will serve as a celebration of Minor League baseball. Monday night will feature the home run derby, Tuesday will have a luncheon and gala for the players and team executives, and the game Wednesday will be televised by the MLB Network.

“These are the kinds of moments, and these are the kinds of experiences, that communities live for and love,” Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce Chairman Michael Schoenfeld said. “And Durham has it and somebody else doesn’t, and that’s great.”

Mobley said that the game has averaged just less than 13,500 fans over the past 10 years, Last year, Buffalo had 18,000 fans combined between the home run derby and the game. The DBAP holds about 10,000 people.

The site for the all-star game alternates each year between the PCL and IL host cities. The host for this year’s event is Reno, which won the 2012 championship in Durham.

On Thursday, Birling remembered back to 18 months ago, when he was announcing that the Bulls would host that game.

“At that time, one of the things that I stressed was the importance of the support that we needed for that game could allow us to get bigger and better things to come here to the Triangle,” Birling said. “Part of me wants to forget about that game because we had three inches of rain. But from the perspective of the league, it was a tremendous event.”