It was a heck of a tournament, really. The crowds were decked out with their team's colors, the spirit of sportsmanship was in the air as rivals co-mingled in the name of the game, and attendees struck out on the streets of Durham to take in a city many had previously not visited.
However, since the ACC Baseball Tournament is making its home in Durham for three more years, the success of this year's tournament is an important indicator of things to come. News flash - it was really successful.
The championship game, held on Sunday, May 24, was completely sold out with standing room only for some ticket holders. The gate counted 9,759 fans, the highest attendance ever recorded by the ACC at one of their championship games. In all, the tournament drew a total of 64,140 fans, the third largest crowd in the history of the tournament.
"A tournament like this brings a quantifiable economic impact, and it's valuable to Durham not only in prestige, but also in dollars and cents," said Shelly Green, President and CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB), the organization charged with marketing Durham to visitors. "At $2.5 million in impact, this tournament is important financially, as well as for promotion of Durham," Green added.
One key to the success of this tournament was promotion, In addition to the ACC's promotion of the tournament, as well as those teams attending, DCVB sent a representative to many potentially attending schools to distribute information about the tournament in Durham. Those game visits were supported in social media with the hashtag #CatchMeInDurham as a way to leverage the similar sentiments teams use to rally fans about their efforts to get to the NCAA College World Series held annually in Omaha. While at the games, DCVB's representative distributed collateral and signed people up to win four tickets to all of the tournament games, as well as a cash prize. The giveaway was intended to drive visitation, as well as start a conversation with those in cities likely to send their respective college baseball teams again in the future.
Sports fans are encouraged to use the Durham Event Calendar to stay up to date on all the games happening here, as well as more than 5,000 events annually.