Bulls ready for season opener
Posted April 2
Updated April 3
Durham, N.C. — The Durham Bulls are back on the field looking to defend their Governors’ Cup championship.
“It’s a different year, but the one thing we got going is that we got ten guys from last year,” said Bulls manager Charlie Montoya. “It’s going to be fun on Saturday when we get the rings. I never take that for granted because it’s not easy to win at this level and we’ve done a great job.”
This year’s roster doesn’t have the big names like Wil Myers or Chris Archer, but there are some intriguing guys to keep an eye on. Smithfield Selma high school graduate Jerry Sands is among the newcomers who will be roaming the outfield this season.
“I was going to spring training, I had a shot to make the team, you always do,” said Sands. “My fallback was coming back to Triple-A to play here. I’m really excited because of what the Durham Bulls do year in and year out.”
Vince Belnome, who helped lead the team in the playoffs in 2013, will be back at first base this year. Once again manager Charlie Montoya will have his pick of some really good arms on the mound.
Overall, you can expect to see plenty of talent at the DBAP and moving on to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014.
“The playoff teams at this level the issue, the biggest thing is not doing very well. For us to be in the playoffs almost every year while or big team is in the playoffs too,” said Montoya. “It’s not easy but the communication was great and of course it helps having good players.”
The six-month journey for the Durham Bulls starts Thursday as they play the Gwinnett Braves at 6 p.m. (620 The Buzz).
DBAP gets fan-friendly makeover during offseason
A new edition of the Bulls will no doubt be the focus of Thursday's opener against Gwinnett, but the Durham Bulls Athletic Park will also get plenty of attention after a round of fan-friendly renovations.
Crews broke ground on $20 million worth of upgrades in September.
Changes start at the front entrance, which has lost the gates but gained a grand facade. On the concourse, nearly a dozen new concessions options have been added.
Overlooking the field of play, just a few of the additions include a new picnic-style seating area in the right field corner, an expanded pavilion with a full-service bar along the right field line, a brand new club level behind home plate, a taqueria in left and enhanced social seating just over the right field wall.
An enhanced WiFi integration will allow up to 8,000 simultaneous users – up from fewer than 2,000 a year ago at a stadium that seats 10,000. New speakers have been installed in the outfield so the patrons behind home plate will no longer be deafened at the expense of their cheap-seat brethren.
And there are more than 4,100 square feet of brand new, state-of-the-art HD video boards highlighted by a 2,048 square foot screen on the Blue Monster in left field.
The field of play itself is a brand new surface, the light banks are new and with the addition of the scoreboards, the dimensions of the field have even changed with the centerfield and rightfield walls coming in a few feet.