Tagged: Walking Tacos

On the Road: Dealing with a lot of Bull in Durham

From my perspective, one of the best things about downtown stadiums is the increased likelihood of staying in a downtown hotel. This means that I can walk to the stadium — a perk that is generally indicative of a team’s proximity to complementary entertainment and historical destinations.

And if you find yourself in downtown Durham and are looking for Durham Bulls Athletic Park — well, just walk toward the bull.

The stadium is located in Durham’s “American Tobacco Historic District,” amidst a flotilla of industrial brick buildings that once served as the base of operations for the city’s tobacco industry. DPAB, built in 1995, has helped to rejuvenate and recontextualize this previously desolate area.

Not sure if it’s the “wrong” side of the tracks, but the Bulls play across them (note the iconic “Roll Your Own” Bull Durham sign on the building).

But what were once factories and warehouses are now office buildings and condos (it reminded of what Lowell has done with its mills). How’s this for a unique place to live?

Say what you will about the actual product, but Lucky Strike remains one of the coolest names and logos ever.

The ballpark fits right in to these brick-laden surroundings.

After a spirited round of dugout interviews with an illustrious group of players — uber-prospect Matt Moore! best-selling author Dirk Hayhurst! All-Star Game MVP Russ Canzler! — then I did what I always do. I commenced to wandering. There is plenty of room to move here, as the latest round of renovations have resulted in a multi-level 360-degree concourse.

Hooters girls were stationed in the outfield, handing out foam hats to all who desired one.

I was not desirous of a foam hat, but a particularly go-getting company representative tracked me down and placed one atop my head. It turned out to be a pretty good look for me, and I haven’t taken it off since.

Such headgear was nowhere to be found at Tobacco Road, a restaurant located along the left field concourse with game-accessible outdoor seating.

There’s also a group seating area located amidst the famous “Snorting Bull” sign. Fans can sit in front of the bull and take in the action…

or hang out in front of his somewhat intimidating visage.

My wandering  soon came to an end, as it was time for the next portion of the evening. I had been invited to take part in the innovative Explorer Post 50 program, which gives students ages 14-20 hands-on experience with nearly every aspect of the team’s HD game broadcasts (we’ll overlook the fact that I’m maybe a few years beyond my 20th birthday).

I wrote about the program (and my experience) in much greater detail over at MiLB.com. Please check it out, as I have an existence to justify! But within this particular forum, I’ll concentrate on depicting things pictorially. The six monitors on the left show the live feeds of all six cameras, all of them manned (or wo-manned) by program participants. Executive producer Chase McKinney directs the broadcast, choosing all shots while issuing instructions via wireless headset.

The view through the HD cameras — the larger box displays the picture as seen on an HD broadcast, with the smaller one representing non-HD. The strip of tape denotes where the “Fox Box” will be on the game broadcast — that ubiquitous graphic displaying score, inning and game situation. That area of one’s shot should always be left open.

In the instant replay room, volunteer adviser Ken Bland does his best to make sure things go smoothly.

I spent two innings manning “instant replay B”, a task that I tried my best to explain in the MiLB.com piece. It involved intent game watching combined with synchronized button pushing.

From there I accompanied Bland to the visiting dugout, in order to take over duties on the third base camera.

This was a unique, stressful and very educational experience — I don’t think I’ll ever watch baseball quite the same way again! And what a great program Explorer Post 50 is. While I realize most teams don’t possess this level of technological capability, I’d love to see it emulated in other markets. These kids are obtaining invaluable real-world job skills.

When they’re not selling rubber ducks on the concourse, that is (for a post-season fundraiser).

It was nigh on the eighth inning when I finished my camera duties, and the concession areas were on the verge of shutting down. My frantic run through the concourse in search of the elusive “Bulldog” (bacon and cheese-topped hot dog, wrapped in a pretzel) proved unsuccessful, so after quickly weighing my remaining options I settled for a Doritos-brand “Walking Taco.”

Concessions are run by Centerplate

I then said a quick hello to Biz Blog reader Dustin Kilpatrick, who visits North Carolina Minor League ballparks on behalf of the North Carolina Education lottery. Thanks for the shirt!

From there I sat down for the first time all game, taking in a spirited rendition of the YMCA…

a post-game canine victory dash…

and an on-field interview punctuated by multiple rubbings of Ken Tanner’s lucky belly (photos of said rubbing came out unsuccessfully, not that this one is much better).

What it all amounted to was a first-class evening with a first-class team in a first-class facility. My only complaint would be that the team store left a lot to be desired.

Nah, I’m just kiddin.

‘That was actually the “store” at the nearby Marriot where I spent the night. I don’t mean to knock it — I was in dire need of a dress shirt and and a pair of pantyhose, and that place really came through for me.



The Spikes' Promotional Cup Runneth Over

spikes-logo.gifGiven the absurd amount of details involved in hosting a professional baseball game, almost all Minor League front office staff members are highly-skilled in the fine art of multi-tasking.

Yesterday, the State College Spikes took multi-tasking to the limit with their highly innovative (and somewhat masochistic) “Night of 100 Promotions.” The evening was exactly what its name implied, as the Spikes crammed an absurd number of promotional endeavors into the span of nine innings. Some of these activities are really stretching the limit of what could be called a “promotion”, but such boundary-pushing is what Minor League Baseball is all about.

Spikes promotions and community relations manager Jennifer Orlando was kind enough to send me a list of all 100 promotions, which I will now reprint in tiny font:

1. Paper Airplane Contest


2. Pet Rock Petting Zoo

3. Rubber Band Shooting Contest

4. Sock Puppet Show

5. Crazy Straws at Concession Stands

6. Bubbles at the Gates

7. Stick of Gum…Win a Contest, win a stick of gum

8. Paper Clip Giveaway

9.  Free Laughs

10. 10 Free Popcorn Gloves @ Gates

11. Paper Plate Mask Making Station

12. Dum Dum Giveaway

13. Sunflower Seed Giveaway

14. Pixie Stick Giveaway

15. Face Painting

16. Amazing Christopher Appearance

17. 70’s Night

18. Family 4 Pack

19. Stadium YMCA Dance

20. Disco Dance Off

21. Hippie Cam

hippy 3.jpg

22. Groovy Grounds Crew Dance

23. Free Programs at gates

24. Free T.P. squares at gates

25. Free High Fives

26. Free Hugs from Ike

27. The Hustle dance instructions

28. Free Smells

29. Spend an Inning in the Press Box

30. Spend an Inning with Ike

31. Bag of Ballpark Air

32. Hula Hoop station on Concourse

33. 70’s Trivia…Valpak?

34. Leftover Night

35. Kids Run the bases

36. Balloon Giveaway

37. Arts and Crafts…Coloring stations?

38. Mini-Golf

39. Self-Guided Concourse tours

40. Spikes Trivia

41. Curve Trivia

42. Pirates Trivia

43. Penn State

44. New York
Penn League Trivia

45. Meet the Spikes Staff

46. Gates open 1 minute early

47. Do the Wave!

48. Free Hugs

49. Intern Olympics

50. Ike Autograph Session


51. Merchandise Sales

52. Front office carnival at the gates

53. Play in Porter

54. Wing Eating Contest

55. Spread the “Peace” Signs

56. $1 off burgers

57. ½ off 16 oz. beer from 6-8

58. ½ off small soda from 6-8

59. Free Pocket Schedules

60. Free Half sheeters

61. Free lists of 100 promotions

62. Free Business cards

63. Sidewalk Chalk

64. Free Trash Disposal

65. Free Recycling

66. 162 Free Student Tix from SPA

67. Ike’s First Pitch

68. Nookie Monster’s First Pitch

69. K Contest – If the Spikes Get 9 Strike Outs, One Lucky
Fan Gets $9 off a Hat

70. Triple Play Contest – If the Spikes Turn a Triple Play,
One Lucky Fan wins Three Free Tickets

71. Walking Taco Walk – If the Spikes Get 4 Walks, One Lucky
Fan wins a free Walking Taco

72. Be the Playball Kid!

73. Fan of the Game Contest

74. Hot Dog Launch

75. Throw Out the Last Pitch of the Game

76. Be the PA Announcer for an inning

77. Jimmy John’s Frozen T-Shirt Contest

78. Weis Market Hamster Balls

79. Mt. Nittany
Wheelworks Tricycle Race


80. T&B Medical Karaoke

81. ValPak Trivia

82. McDonald’s Waterballoon Toss

83. Sweet Tooth Bakery Candy Toss

84. Dominoes Pizza Scream

85. Heimer Eyecare 20/20 Dash

86. Nittany Embroidery T-Shirt Toss

87. Wegman’s Playbill Signature

88. Sheetz Playbill Signature

89. Pre-game Player Autographs

90. Be the Honorary Bat Kid Pre-Game

91. 4 Lucky Fans will get their seat upgraded

92. Grounds Crew Tip of the Day

93. Birthday & Anniversaries will be announced

94. 4 Free Pizzas!

Brooklyn Style Pizza-712w.jpg

95. One Lucky Row will win free car washes

96. Ike Skit

97. Play Ball Launch at the end of the game

98. Guess the Attendance

99. Lucky section will win a prize when the first Spikes run

100. Be on the Fan Cam!

There are many, many highlights here, but perhaps my favorite is #61 — “Free List of 100 Promotions”. This list could then serve as a handy checklist throughout the evening, as fans participated in a veritable promotion scavenger hunt. I am also partial to the free bag of air (#31), free smells (#28), and the chance to win a  “walking taco” (#71).

So now that the Spikes have set the bar with this promotion, will any team be able to top it? Will we soon see a night of 101 Promotions? 200? 567? The sky’s the limit, really, and I am hoping that a full-fledged battle now erupts as teams vie for the coveted honor of “Most Promotions Staged in A Single Night.”

I would also like to see a team host a “Knight of 100 Emotions”, featuring a medieval warrior with bi-polar disorder.