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Community support lacking for Richmond ballpark proposal

More opposition rises in public debate of new ballpark proposals in Richmond, as Shockoe Bottom plan is panned by attendees. The good news: residents don’t hate the idea of a new ballpark — they just hate the current proposal.Public forums aren’t always the best way to gauge public opinion: one side or the other on a contentious issue will usually try to pack a meeting hall in an attempt to sway public opinion their way.

There didn’t seem to be any of that at a Tuesday night public forum in Richmond, where the future of baseball in the city was discussed. On one side promoting a Shockoe Bottom location: developer Paul Kreckman of Highwood Properties and Bryan Bostic of Richmond Baseball Club, the group buying the Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League).

Opposing them: pretty much everyone else who showed up. The opposition had several reasons why a Shockoe Bottom location would not work: the historically significant area is ill-suited to baseball, tax monies would be diverted to the project, and there’s no regional cooperation on the facility.

Kreckman and Bostic had some ready answers — because tax-increment financing would be used for the ballpark, it’s essentially free for residents — but they didn’t resonate with the crowd. Indeed, the preferred route expressed by most is a new or renovated facility at the current Diamond site on the Boulevard. It’s a proposal Kreckman and Bostic are fighting tooth and nail.

Mayor Dwight Jones was in the house, and we’re sure he took note of the opposition. Much rides on what Jones decides: he’s waiting for a consultants’ report on what would be the best financial route for the city. And, unlike an original report commissioned by then-Mayor Doug Wilder, this one will include figures on a renovated Diamond.

RELATED STORIES: MiLB: New ballpark still preferred route in RichmondBostic: It makes no sense to renovate The Diamond; Richmond baseball study didn’t consider renovated Diamond, stacks deck for new downtown ballpark; Richmond ballpark consulting deal draws criticism; Norwich approves Defenders lease transfer; Richmond to study new ballpark; Defenders ballpark lease transfer on tap for next week; new team for Norwich chosen?; Renovated Diamond may do in RichmondMiLB to Richmond: Show us the ballpark plan; Richmond group applies for permission to buy team; New Richmond ballpark would rely on sales-tax rebates; Richmond group says it’s close to buying team

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