MLB To Durham, Upgrade Your Stadium Or Else

MLB wants stadium upgrades by 2025.

When Major League Baseball owners seized control of Minor League Baseball a couple of years ago, the barons of baseball made it very clear to minor league operators and to elected officials in the cities that had minor league affiliations with MLB teams that you better have ballparks that meet our standards, whatever MLB standards are. One of the minor league’s most recognizable names is the Durham Bulls, mainly because of the 1988 movie Bull Durham. But MLB owners really don’t care about classic movies when the local ballpark leaves an unfavorable impression. MLB wants an upgrade at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and wants it done by April 2025 or else. The or else? MLB will move the franchise to some other city similar in size that is willing to meet MLB requirements. The cost of the renovations? More than $10 million for a new batting tunnel, renovations to the office and the player locker rooms. Durham is part of Triple-A Baseball, the highest level of the minor leagues.

Originally Durham, North Carolina politicians thought they would have to come up with about $5 million for the facelift but construction costs are rising. COVID-19 has not gone away and the price of fuel has risen since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is some money in Durham, it is part of the Research Triangle area of North Carolina and there are more than a quarter of a million people in the area. Duke University and tech companies are located in the city. The Durham Bulls ownership planned to put in one million dollars as part of the renovations leaving Durham to come up with an additional nine million dollars. At some point, Durham elected officials will say we need to do this because the park is an economic generator.

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