While many headed to the beach for the Memorial Day weekend, Durham has hit an economic home run with the ACC baseball tourney being played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Durham, which will host the championship through 2018, could bring in $16 million over those four years, the Durham Chamber of Commerce estimates.
“It really is one of those things that we believe is an important part of the signature brand of Durham,” said Casey Steinbacher, CEO with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. “It’s great brand marketing for us. These are the kind of things we want to be known for.”
The city has hosted the championship several times, most recently in 2013. This year a free fan fest area was set up outside the stadium, conveniently located near restaurants.
“It is the perfect time for ACC to be here and for the baseball tournament to be here,” Casey said. “We feel well equipped to welcome everybody.”
The Higbea family traveled from Charlotte to see their favorite team play Saturday. “I like baseball and I like the Seminoles,” said seven-year-old Hudson Higbea.
It was the first visit to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the Higbeas and they were happy with a 6-0 Florida State victory over Louisville that sent the Seminoles to the finals Sunday against N.C. State.
“It’s a beautiful area and stadium,” said Angela Higbea, who along with her husband brought her three children to the tournament.
“(We’re) definitely spending money here at the baseball stadium on tickets and food,” she said. “Afterwards I’m sure we’ll go out and enjoy the street outside and eat.”
The crowd of 9,759 on Sunday, where FSU beat N.C. State for the title, broke the previous championship game record of 8,697 for the 2013 meeting between North Carolina and Virginia Tech, which was also played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The total attendance of 64,140 for this year’s ACC Baseball Championship ranks as the third-highest in tournament history.
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