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Flying Squirrels: New ballpark still a priority

Richmond Flying SquirrelsDespite an agreement by local municipalities to spend $300,000 on ballpark improvements, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) front office says a new facility should be a priority after the fall elections.

It seems like ballpark discussions in Richmond go in fits and spurts; city officials will pay heed to the team’s needs and then be distracted by the Next Big Thing. In the case of the Flying Squirrels, the city was seemingly making progress on a potential plan in the downtown area. That progress was halted when the Washington Redskins (NFL) expressed interest in a new training camp in Richmond. All of a sudden, the ballpark was on the back burner, and the Dwight Jones administration was working overtime to put together a training-facility project.

This isn’t the first time the Flying Squirrels have been set aside by city officials; owner Lou DiBella has complained more than once about how the city is treating the team. Really, the Flying Squirrels can’t do much more than just wait for now. Threatening to move would be counterproductive, as we’re guessing Peter Kirk and the independent Atlantic League would be at City Hall, ready to sign a lease, the day the Flying Squirrels departed. Richmond is a major market. But The Diamond isn’t improving with time,  From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Chuck Domino, chief executive manager of the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, said the team has been waiting until after Election Day for Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones to signal his plans for a new stadium either in downtown Richmond or next to The Diamond on North Boulevard.

The team also has been patient because of the city’s compressed schedule for producing a summer training camp facility for the Washington Redskins by next summer — a plan unveiled by the mayor late last month.

“We would expect to see some movement,” Domino said Monday. “We would be very disappointed if we didn’t hear from them shortly.”

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