DURHAM – The clouds finally opened up to blue skies on Tuesday night, just in time for Big Top’s inaugural Startup Night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Around 300 people turned up for the much-hyped event, watching their local team play against the Toledo Mud Hens from a private deck. As a slight summer breeze blew through the stands, people sipped beer and talked shop with friends and new acquaintances in the startup circle.

The Durham Bulls, entrepreneurs and blue skies … a winning combo.

“What Big Top wants to do is create more moments for people in the startup community to build connections and relationships,” said Big Top’s director Molly Demarest. “We don’t have a lot of opportunity outside of our day-to-day work environment. And so we thought, why not pair baseball with the startup community and have a chance for companies to come together, bring their families, and just enjoy a night out on the field.”

Robert Giacomelli actually drove down from New York City to attend the event.

After spending the last two decades slugging away in the Big Apple, the former Duke grad is considering a move back to the Triangle. He thought this would be a great opportunity to check out the startup scene.

“While doing some research, my wife came across Big Top. I was impressed that Durham had created an incubator such as Big Top, signaling to me the potential for growth,” said the 42-year-old, who recently founded his own consulting business, MaRa Associates.

“We’ve come to a place in our lives where we’re looking for a better quality of life and a change of pace. The growth in this area that we’ve watched take place since our college years has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to putting down some roots here.”

Software engineer Justin McCarty, who recently completed Project Shift, an immersive coding bootcamp alternative based out of Durham, was also attending his first Big Top event. He was hoping to network and make new job contacts.

“The startup culture is great,” he told WRAL TechWire. “I love anything local. It’s fun to engage in the activities – the Bulls game, local breweries. It’s all good.”

Meanwhile, some companies were using the event to raise their profile.

Drone-technology firm PrecisionHawk set up a stand inside the park close to the entrance, passing out fliers which read: “Are drones the next iPhone?”

“We were so excited to support this event,” said Erin Miller, vice president of human resources at PrecisionHawk.

“Our goal is to recruit top tier talent, and [this] is a great avenue to try new and creative ways to attract the right individuals to our growing team. It’s no longer a post and pray job market. If companies want to get the best talent and diversify, we need to be innovative and build meaningful relationships within our community.”