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The Best Ways to Enjoy a Durham Bulls Baseball Game

Estimated Read Time:
5 min

Take us out to a Bulls game. Take us out for some fun. Buy us a t-shirt and Cracker Jacks. We'll have a great time, and yes, we'll be back.

Call your friends. Tell your mama. Do a happy dance. Baseball season is here, and there is no sporting event like a game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). Something about this ballpark — the well-kept field in all its green glory, the local beer brewed near home plate, the big snorting bull promising free steak to anyone who hits it, and the energy from the excited crowd decked in blue and burnt orange — makes you feel right at home.

Whether it’s your first baseball game (and you don’t know the difference between Babe Ruth and Baby Ruth) or your one hundredth, one of the 10,000 seats at the DBAP is calling your name. Here’s a guide to help you plan your vacation around a Durham Bulls ballgame.

1. Wow your crew with Bulls facts.

No need to bust out the baseball cliff notes. Here are some Bulls stats to drop casually to impress your friends during the game​.

Yeah, the Bulls are kind of a big deal.

Not only are they Triple-A baseball affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Bulls are often the best in the league. They won back-to-back League and Division championships in 2021 and 2022. They're also the only minor league baseball team with a claim to fame beyond winning titles: Bull Durham, the 1988 sports comedy with Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, spurred the Bulls baseball team to international fame. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s time! This year marks the film's 35th anniversary. )

Before the DBAP, the Bulls played at the Durham Athletic Park (DAP). Most of the filming of Bull Durham was done at the DAP, and fans of the film can still see the same diamond that Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh (Tim Robbins) pitched on in the Central Park District. Despite expansion with temporary bleachers, the DAP was just too small to handle the Bulls fans and their Triple-A dreams.

The Bulls moved into their new $16-million home in 1995. A few years later, it expanded to a 10,000-seat capacity for the 1998 season — the year the Bulls began playing in the Triple-A International League. Designed so that every seat gives fans a great view of the field, the stadium has an intimate feel. The brick ballpark reflects many characteristics of old-time parks and the historic downtown Durham architecture. Following a 2023 renovation, the Bulls' storied history is on display at the new Hall of Fame hallway, right next to the Bulls' Store shop. Check out memorabilia, trophies and interactive exhibits.

One of the recurring motifs in Bull Durham was the presence of a bull in right field that would snort smoke when struck by a home run with the famous moniker “HIT BULL WIN STEAK”. The bull above the Blue Monster at DBAP is not the exact one used in the movie. A replica snorting bull debuted when the DBAP initially opened with the addition “HIT GRASS WIN SALAD.”

2. Know where to park or ride.

If you get to the ballpark early, you can find free street parking around downtown. Also, there are metered parking spots that are free after 7 p.m. Park in the neighboring parking decks for $7 per car, or save time and purchase parking passes for Bulls games before the game online. Just show your pass when you arrive, and your parking ticket will be scanned.

You can also avoid traffic and take public transit to the Bulls game. Because the ballpark is located a short walk from the Durham Station, the hub for buses in Durham, ​and the Durham Amtrak Station, getting to the DBAP from any point in Durham is easy. Map your route, and enjoy the game.

3. Enjoy Special Promotions.

Wool E. Bull is known for his gameday costumes. Get ready for special promotions and exciting events throughout the season.

The paw-pular Bark in the Park nights are back. Furry friends can join their owners with a special dog ticket for select Wednesday games.

Take advantage of deals on concessions at weekday games: Tacos & Tallboy Tuesdays (starting May 16), Kids Eat Free Wednesdays and Dollar Dog Thursdays. Plus, there's a fantastic fireworks display after every Friday night game and Saturday nights starting May 20. Bring the kids out on Sundays when they can feel like the pros at Kids Run the Bases.

Who needs the beach? Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with the Bulls. Stick around for fireworks and festivities after the game.

Calling all campers. Enjoy the most unique and memorable camp experience at DBAP for just $32. Camp packages include a game ticket, pre-game parade, fireworks, a post-game snack, breakfast, and a camp spot.

4. Get in on the pregame.

Head to the park early, and check out the local vendors. Gates open an hour before game time, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore. Catch the pre-game warm-ups, snap a photo with mascot Wool E. Bull, get a few player autographs, shop for souvenirs and let the mini bulls run wild at the Wool E. World play area while you scope out the beer options. As you make your way to the entrance, peer through the windows on Blackwell Street to see players warming up at the indoor batting facility.

Tobacco Road Sports Café is literally a baseball’s throw away from the field, so it’s the perfect place to hang out. If you’re especially keen to look like a die-hard fan (or you want the perfect souvenir), stop at the Ballpark Corner Store next to the stadium’s main entrance on the corner of Blackwell Street and Jackie Robinson Drive. Pick up a limited edition Toros Bravos de Durham baseball cap and a “2023 is this bullshirt for real?” t-shirt. There is also a souvenir stand by Jackie’s Landing Bar, adjacent to Wool E. World, with all sorts of Bull treasures. Don’t leave without something with the Bull City’s name on it.

5. Pick the Best Seats in the House.

Sure, every seat is a good seat at the DBAP. Even the standing room above the outfield provides a nice view of the field near the action. But, here’s the scoop on what tickets to get if you want to catch a foul ball, have a clear view of the fireworks, and get to the food and bathrooms faster than you can say “Wool E. Bull.”

While there’s netting that prevents the closest seats from being in danger of any foul balls, bring your glove for seats in the 100-200s to maybe catch a stray ball of your own. Families with kids and those who need quick bathroom access should grab a spot in the 215-218 area. The seats with the best sunset views over the American Tobacco Campus also happen to be the cheapest seats in the ballpark’s outfield.

If you go to an earlier game, though, just be sure to bring your sunglasses with you (or grab a hat at the ballpark store) before the sun goes down. This season, fireworks will happen every Friday and Saturday night after Memorial Day, so grab a spot by the first baseline or hang around for an up close and personal display of light exploding in the sky. Buy single games tickets on the Bulls website.

6. Eat More than Peanuts & Cracker Jacks.

Of course, we have peanuts, Cracker Jacks and your usual ballpark burgers, pretzels, fries and beers, but there’s so much more. Forget those fast-food chains. The DBAP got fancy with local food options you probably didn’t think were possible at a baseball game. Most of the concessions are located in the grandstand. The area gets a little crowded, so order your grub on the mobile app.

Head to the first and third base sides of the stadium concourse for a classic hot dog loaded with mustard, pickles, jalapeños, and onions. Pile on all the goods for the best ballgame experience. Don’t be shy. Hot dogs pair perfectly with beer! Durham original Fullsteam Brewery will be pouring drafts and selling cans of their award-winning brews at the stadium.

Dig into a slice of Pie Pushers hand-tossed pizza that’s both crunchy and fluffy, topped with an eclectic combination of local ingredients. For sweet treats, DBAP has Locopops, cotton candy, funnel cakes and snow cones, so come hungry.

Know of another minor league ballpark with its own brewery? Didn’t think so. Bull Durham Beer Co. is the only craft beer company located inside a minor league ballpark. Go ahead and root for the Bulls, while sipping on high-quality craft beer that’s brewed on site.

7. Stretch during the Seventh Inning Stretch.

Here’s your chance to stand up, take a walk, and fuel up on snacks and $7 draft beers. Little ones can participate in seventh-inning entertainment or opt for another ride down the slide at Wool E. World. Whether it’s shooting t-shirts into the crowd or Wool E. Bull driving around the field in his go-kart, there’s something monumental happening between innings.

8. Find the Instagrammable Spots.

There’s no excuse for having boring pictures when you attend a Durham Bulls game. Between the magnificent downtown views and unique structures on the American Tobacco Campus, Insta-worthy photos are guaranteed.

Snap a photo in front of the entryway ballpark water fountain or make your way to the outfield and take a photo overlooking a full view of downtown Durham. Head to the south side of the American Tobacco Campus to strike a pose in front of the Durham sign.

9. Plan a full weekend.

Make it a weekend trip, and book a stay at one of Durham’s nearby lodging properties. Situated within just a block of one another, Durham’s three boutique hotels offer something unique, and the Aloft Hotel is just a short walk from the ballpark.

A few blocks away from DBAP is Durham’s Visitor Information Center. Stop by to pick up a map and guide with things to do. DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center is nearby, and the area has an active nightlife, with many popular restaurants and bars. Park your car once and appreciate the walkability of downtown for a full weekend of entertainment.

Don’t strike out and miss your opportunity to root, root, root for the home team this season. See you in the stands with craft beer and hot dogs in your hands.