DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The City of Durham has been tasked with coming up with $10 million to make upgrades to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, or the minor league baseball team will no longer be able to play at the stadium. 

Major League Baseball is requiring these upgrades and the deadline for completion is April 2025.   

If the deadline is not met, Durham’s baseball franchise could be in jeopardy, according to city officials. 

Officials updated city council members about the cost of the renovations during the Durham city council work session on Thursday afternoon. 

“The upgrades include the addition of a new batting tunnel, renovations to the office and the player locker rooms,” John Paces-Wiles with the city of Durham’s general services department said.

Originally, the upgrades were going to cost the city approximately $5 million, but due to rising construction costs in the midst of COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine, staff told the council it will now cost $10.2 million.  

Durham City Council member Jillian Johnson voiced concerns during the work session about spending this much in public money on these upgrades. 

“Right now, I don’t feel I could make a convincing argument to this community that spending $10 million dollars on these renovations, in order to continue to spend significant amounts of money every year to maintain the ballpark to pay for the debt and the operations, that that’s a good use of public money,” Johnson said. 

But if the city does not move forward with these upgrades, then there’s a big consequence. 

“If we do not complete the requirements of Major League Baseball, that flows through Minor League Baseball, then we would not be able to host games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park,” Jina Propst said, the Director of the city’s General Services Department. 

While the Durham Bulls are assisting with paying $1 million in renovations, the city of Durham must come up with the other $9 million. 

“Since it’s a city facility, a majority of the burden falls on the city,” Paces-Wiles said. 

Before making a decision, Johnson asked for staff to bring back data on how much of a financial benefit the Bulls bring to the city.  

Most city council members said during the meeting they support keeping the Bulls. 

“I just want to be clear, the Bulls ain’t going nowhere,” Mark-Anthony Durham, the Mayor Pro-Tem, said. “When people go to those Bulls games, it drives so much economic activity.” 

Mayor Elaine O’Neal also voiced her support for keeping the Bulls in Durham. 

“That heartfelt tie for a lot of Durhamites, including myself, you can’t monetize that,” O’Neal said. “That’s a part of who we are, it’s a part of what makes Durham great.” 

But as city council members must create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Council member Javiera Caballero said its important to look at the cost of this. 

“There’s clearly a lot of emotional attachment to this issue, but people need to understand what that emotional cost is,” Caballero said. “My assumption is its going to be a great economic benefit, that story should also be told.” 

Durham City Council members are expected to further discuss this item at their next city council meeting in April.