I wrote a story for today’s paper about the Duke baseball program’s decision to move the vast majority of its home games off campus. In total, the Blue Devils will play seven games at Jack Coombs Field on West Campus, six at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, and the remaining 18 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in downtown Durham. In the article, I touch on all the positive reasons for the move to DBAP–the venue is beautiful and well-known by fans and recruits–and the negative reasons for the move, namely, the poor quality of the drainage system at Jack Coombs Field.
One commenter on the article on The Chronicle’s website asked if the University had considered providing transportation to the games. I asked associate athletic director that question, and he said that if it became clear that fan support merited chartering buses and the like, the program would certainly think about it. At this moment, though, Duke-provided transportation to the ballpark is not in place.
Putting aside my reporting duties and thinking of myself as a student who lives off campus with a car, I think I would be more likely to go to DBAP than to Jack Coombs for a game. DBAP is a nicer place, the distance from my apartment near East Campus is the same and they sell better concessions and beer at DBAP than they do on campus. But if I still lived on West, I think I would feel differently. And that’s without even considering the quality of the opponents–Jack Coombs Field will not host a single ACC game this year, and the only visitors playing there are low-level teams from North and South Carolina. On the other hand, DBAP will host Miami, Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson, all elite teams nationally.
Still, the positives of playing at DBAP, especially when there’s a good crowd there, are pretty strong. Anyone who attended Duke’s ACC tournament games there last May can attest that the ballpark makes the whole baseball experience a better one. But if Duke fans aren’t willing to drive to see their team, this experiment might not work for Duke Baseball in the long run.