DURHAM — Durham Bulls Athletic Park pulled its best showing yet for combined attendance at the ACC Baseball Championship this week.
Attendance for the event, over 13 games beginning Wednesday, was at 39,669 in a preliminary count by The News & Observer.
That’s the best the event has ever done in Durham, beating the city’s previous high-mark for the event in 1998, when 24,162 showed.
That number ranked 17th overall in the 36-year history of the event, but this week’s tally ranks eighth overall.
Attendance figures weren’t helped by a change in format last year, with three fewer games than before. But it is helped by a set schedule of games, guaranteeing fans a chance to see their teams, even if the result is that there were “meaningless” games between two teams with no chance of advancing to the final.
They also weren’t helped by N.C. State and Wake Forest missing the eight-team field.
The last four years the event was held in Jacksonville, Fla., and the top four crowds in the tournament’s history showed, with the record set in 2005, when 73,251 attended.
The tournament wound up in Durham on the fly after a scheduling conflict at Boston’s Fenway Park. The ACC wanted to keep it close, so it chose Durham.
Next year, the tournament was to be held at Fenway, but a few weeks ago, the conference moved it to Greensboro after deciding this was the wrong time to have it in Boston. With this economy, it worried few would be able to come.