Despite the threats of protest and a lack of enthusiasm from fans, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones reportedly will unveil plans for a Shockoe Bottom ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) on Monday.
There have been two competing visions for a new Richmond ballpark: a new facility built next to The Diamond, the longtime site of pro baseball in the city (Parker Field, the Diamond's predecessor, was in the same location), or a new ballpark in the Shockoe Bottom area. Former Mayor Doug Wilder had proposed a Shockoe Bottom site as well, but opposition from activists arguing a ballpark usage was not compatible with the site's history as a slave-trading site, as well as the economic downturn, dissuaded further work on a site plan. The local African-American community had pitched Shockoe Bottom as the location of a museum chronicling the slave trade, but those plans have not come to fruition.
Jones will unveil a plan Monday. It's no surprise: he's been pitching local business and political leaders on the desirability of a Shockoe Bottom ballpark for several months now, with the proceeds of a land sale at The Diamond to developers to help pay for a facility. We're guessing Jones will cite potential economic development as a rationale for going with Shockoe Bottom: there's little chance for associated economic development at the current Diamond site, but there's potential economic development near downtown. From NBC 12:
The administration is planning a large event with city and business leaders to unveil the proposal and put an end to years of speculation as to where a stadium complex would be built in Richmond.
The stadium complex in the Bottom would require land deals and City Council would have to sign off. The mayor will introduce a resolution to get the process started at Monday night's City Council meeting, according to sources. Then, two weeks later at the next meeting, the administration will go over several ordinances needed to make this proposal a reality.
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