Durham Athletic Park – A Real Life Major Motion Picture Site

Durham Athletic Park – A Real Life Major Motion Picture Site

Durham Athletic Park (often referred to with the acronym DAP) is located at the intersection of Washington Street and W. Corporation Street in Durham, North Carolina.

The Durham Athletic Park
Durham Athletic Park, Former Home of the Durham Bulls

Home to minor league baseball beginning in 1926, for the first seven years of its existence the ballpark was known as El Toro Park. The ballpark was renamed Durham Athletic Park in 1933 after the stadium was acquired by the City of Durham. The original ballpark, which included a wooden grandstand, was destroyed by fire in 1939. A new steel and concrete grandstand was constructed and ready for the 1940 season.

The Durham Athletic Park turret topped building
Durham Athletic Park Turret Topped Building That Housed Ticket Booth

Although there were some years where minor league baseball was not played in Durham, the ballpark primarily was home to the Durham Bulls up through the 1994 season. Local Durham Negro League teams including the Eagles and the Rams also played at Durham Athletic Park.

The entrance to the Durham Athletic Park
Entrance Behind To Durham Athletic Park Behind Home Plate

Durham Athletic Park is perhaps the most famous minor league ballpark in the country, thanks to its use as the primary filming site for the movie Bull Durham, staring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and the late Trey Wilson. War Memorial Stadium, located in nearby Greensboro, North Carolina, 50 miles west of DAP, also was used for filming some of the scenes in Bull Durham.

The view of the Durham Athletic Park grandstand from home team dugout
View of DAP Grandstand From Home Team Dugout

For fans of Bull Durham, a visit to Durham Athletic Park is like walking through a movie set.

The view of the Durham Athletic Park grandstand from behind home plate
View Of DAP Grandstand From Behind Home Plate

The City of Durham recently completed a $4 million renovation of the ballpark. Although some things have changed, like the color of the grandstand wall that runs along the infield, which is now brown, not green, the ballpark is readily recognizable as the ballpark where Crash Davis helped tutor Nuke LaLoosh to become a major league pitcher.

Box seats and general admission at Durham Athletic Park
Box Seats And General Admission At DAP

The home team dugout where many memorable scenes were filmed now has a protective fence in front of it.

The Durham Athletic Park home team dugout
DAP Home Team Dugout

The radio announcer’s booth, made famous by Garland Bunting, remains. In real life, Bunting was a North Carolina Revenue Agent.

The Durham Athletic Park radio announcer's booth
DAP Radio Announcer’s Booth

The press box remains as well.

The Durham Athletic Park box seats
Box Seats Behind Top Of Press Box, Durham Athletic Park

In the movie, the press box was visible directly behind home plate.

The Durham Athletic Park press box
Press Box At DAP

The outfield signage has been removed, including the famous bull that blew smoke and moved its tail when hit by a home run ball. In addition, at least two of the buildings beyond the right field fence have been painted blue.

A view of the Durham Athletic Park field
Buildings Behind Right Field Where Once Sat The Bull SIgn

Durham Athletic Park and the movie Bull Durham helped revive the popularity of minor league baseball in the United States. They also helped end the ballpark’s affiliation with a minor league team.

A concession stand in the Durham Athletic Park
Concession Stand, Durham Athletic Park

The team soon found that the small stadium could no longer hold the crowds that came to see the Bulls.

A covered portion of the Durham Athletic Park
Field Of Dreams, DAP Infield

Beginning in 1995, the Durham Bulls began play at newly constructed Durham Bulls Athletic Park (“DBAP”). Some of the iconic features of the DAP, such as the “Hit Bull Win Steak” sign are included in the new ballpark.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park game at night
Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Current Home of the Durham Bulls

Thanks to the popularity of the movie Bull Durham and the forward thinking of the city of Durham, North Carolina, Durham Athletic Park is here to stay.

Byron Bennett