Thursday, August 09, 2007

MiLB Understands Place-Based Tourism

With four national championships (three Duke, one NCCU), Durham has a great basketball tradition. But it is equaled by our community's connection with baseball. The Durham Bulls have played since 1903. Minor League Baseball (MiLB) was based here in the 1930s. The Durham Bulls and the movie Bull Durham resurrected national interest in minor league baseball, now the second highest in attendance among pro sports.

Now MiLB is planning to operate the soon-to-be-renovated Historic Durham Athletic Park, known affectionately as the DAP and home for the Bulls until they moved to the other side of Downtown in the mid '90s.

They will grandfather in the festivals that occur there, like the upcoming Bull Durham Blues Festival and the World Beer Festival. The DAP will remain the home field for the NCCU Eagles, and MiLB will turn the facility into a training center where minor league clubs will send front office personnel, grounds crews, umpires and others for training.

MiLB is also proposing a partnership on a Minor League Baseball History Museum, hopefully along the right field wall. MiLB also plans events like fantasy camps etc.

This is all about what's called "place-based tourism." As settlements begin to look more and more alike, the communities that will excel are those that develop place-based assets, meaning events and facilities with natural ties to the community and that make it different from other places.

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