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Opening Day Partners, HNTB propose radical overhaul of Richmond’s Diamond

With MiLB efforts to retain the Richmond market in disarray, Peter Kirk and associates are proposed a $28 million overhaul of the former home of the Richmond Braves that would eliminate the second deck and install a slew of family-friendly features.

With ballpark plans still up in the air and MiLB plans for the territory in flux, Opening Day Partners is proposing a $28-million makeover of The Diamond, the former home of the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League), either for an independent Atlantic League team or an affiliated team.

ODP principals Peter Kirk and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson announced the plan, which was produced after a five-month design effort by ODP and its development partners HNTB Architects and construction firm Skanska USA.

“Peter and I have a deep affection for Richmond — each of us has a daughter who attended college here — and we are very familiar with the region,” Robinson said. “We have been closely following the debate over returning minor-league baseball to Richmond and would very much like to see baseball return as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

“We have developed a clear vision of what we believe Richmond’s next generation of professional baseball should look like to be successful,” Kirk said. “We believe that a new Richmond ballpark should fully meet all standards for Triple-A play, but of equal importance contain the facilities for year-round use by the entire community –- not just baseball fans. We also believe that Richmond’s new team should pay its fair share of stadium construction costs and operating and maintenance expenses, in a true public-private partnership. The ownership group should also have local representation. Further, in a transparent process with Richmond’s participation, we will see that the best available team is brought to Richmond next year.

“ODP has owned and operated minor league teams at all levels, affiliated as well as independent, and has developed 14 new ballparks in our 27 years,” Kirk added. “We are proud of the long term partnerships that wehave with communities and invite asking our references about us.”

The group is pitching the ballpark renovation to the city and the RMA, which owns and operates The Diamond. The Kirk/Robinson effort will hinge on a few factors. First, the press release we received didn't say how much Opening Day Partners will contribute to the $28 million price tag, but we assume they will bring some cash to the table. Compare that with the MiLB stance that a new facility must be totally paid for by the city. Second, the proposal allows the city to have a practically new ballpark in a familiar and cheaper location; counter that with the $60 million price tag for a new ballpark in a controversial location. And, Kirk brings a team to the mix; right now there's no affiliated team in the picture after a Richmond group dropped efforts to buy the Connecticut Defenders.