The city of Richmond is moving ahead on a purchase of The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League), as part of a master plan for a new downtown ballpark development.
The plan, as approved by the City Council yesterday, calls for a purchase of The Diamond from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority by the end of the year. It's not The Diamond the city wants; it's the land under the ballpark, which is an important component of a $200-million Shockoe Bottom ballpark development plan. The city would tear down The Diamond to make way for new development. Putting the ballpark area on the Boulevard back on public tax rolls will generate funds for the development of Shockoe Bottom with a new Flying Squirrels ballpark, grocery store, 700 apartments, a hotel and a slave-trade memorial.
It's interesting to see the motives of folks opposed to this plan. Normally, when you're talking about a ballpark as old as The Diamond (it was hastily built for the 1985 season), you have people stepping up to preserve the ballpark. But there's not much love out there for the old concrete monstrosity: people opposing the project are against putting a new ballpark in Shockoe Bottom for various reasons (downtown location, slave-trade history there) or against moving baseball from the Boulevard, with its easy freeway access from neighboring counties. As it stands now, The Diamond is an unloved relic, and it's funny to hear some city councilors express concern that the ballpark is in bad shape: no one expects it to be hosting pro baseball in five years.
RELATED STORIES: Alternative plan pitched for Richmond's Shockoe Bottom: No new ballpark; Flying Squirrels lease: $1.7M annually; naming rights could lower that number; Squirrels ballpark plan include hotel, apartments, grocery; Richmond quietly positions for new ballpark; Activists: Ballpark not best use for Shockoe Bottom; Poll: Squirrels home should be built next to current ballpark; Richmond: No vote on ballpark location; Flying Squirrels: Fans don't know what they are missing; Richmond committee: Don't put ballpark location to vote; Richmond ballpark location may be decided by voters; New Richmond ballpark: on or off?; Shockoe Bottom gaining momentum as Flying Squirrels ballpark site?; Progress made on new Richmond ballpark: McEacharn; MiLB squirrelly about new Richmond ballpark; Flying Squirrels: New ballpark still a priority; Flying Squirrels extend Diamond lease, setting stage for ballpark improvements; Experts: Downtown ballpark could revitalize Richmond; Squirrels: No plans to leave Richmond "at the present time"; Didn't take long: Opposition rises to Richmond Shockoe Bottom ballpark site; Richmond ballpark discussion shifts back to Shockoe Bottom; Manchester in play as well; Richmond: Yes, we really do intend on building a new ballpark; Budget issues postpone Squirrels ballpark to 2015 at the earliest; New Richmond ballpark by 2014?; DiBella: Time to start talking new ballpark; Flying Squirrels throw out first offer on new ballpark; Baseball returns to Richmond's Diamond -- but for how long?
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