A day after comments from Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) President Lou DiBella suggested frustration with the lack of progress on a new ballpark, Mayor Dwight C. Jones reiterated the city’s commitment to a new facility.
DiBella suggested the team would look for a new home because it looked like a new ballpark wouldn’t happen until 2014 or 2015 at the earliest; his sentiments were back up by MiLB President Pat O’Conner and Eastern League President Joe McEacharn. DiBella walked back the statements later in the day, saying the team was totally committed to Richmond.
Still, the move worked, as Jones issued a statement saying the city was working on a solution with regional partners. Though there’s the general outline of a plan — a new ballpark would be built in The Diamond parking lot — there’s no funding commitments in place, past the Squirrels ownership saying they’d contribute as much as other regional partners.
It’s not a matter of local officials being unwilling to go ahead with a new ballpark, but more a matter of two other factors slowing things down: some changes need to made on the city-owned land adjoining the ballpark site (a process that’s started), and the bad economy is impacting city and county coffers.
In fact, we can’t see anything really new here: there have been discussions going on for several months, with the city explicitly saying weeks ago they didn’t see a new ballpark until 2015 at the earliest. Today, we’re still looking at a 2015 opening at the earlier, so nothing has changed.
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