With a new ballpark several years down the road, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) signed a lease extension for The Diamond through 2015, with options through 2017.
With the lease extension in hand, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority will accede to the team’s wish for new lighting at the ballpark, with a new playing field on the agenda as well. The lease covers the 2014 and 2015 seasons, with two one-year options going into 2017.
The original lease agreement was scheduled to end at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
“Maintaining The Diamond for the enjoyment of Squirrels fans and playability for the team is a top priority for the RMA as we consider the lease extension,” said RMA General Manager Mike Berry. “The installation of new lighting at the stadium will allow for greater reliability of the lighting system. We feel it is necessary to move forward with this project, while the metro regional partners continue to discuss new ballpark options.”
“Although the Squirrels have not lost sight that a new facility is needed for the long term viability of professional baseball in Richmond, we both realize the importance of creating the highest caliber conditions possible for the World Champion San Francisco Giants and all of our fans in Richmond. We thank the RMA for being pro-active in recognizing our needs,” said Flying Squirrels Chief Executive Manager Chuck Domino.
The lighting project is expected to cost approximately $300,000 and will be completed before the April 2013 season opener, according to David Caudill, RMA director of operations.
The lease extension should relieve some pressure on all sides to negotiate a new ballpark. A few different plans have been floated, including a new ballpark next to The Diamond and a new facility downtown, but funding and regional participation are two of the many hurdles in the process.
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