It sounds like the city of Richmond and the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) are making serious progress on a new-ballpark plan, though some major decisions are still in the offing.
When Lou DiBella and crew moved the team from Norwich, the assumption was that a new-ballpark plan could be worked out rather quickly; The Diamond was not regarded by anyone as a long-term solution. Past that, however, everything was up in the air, ranging from who would participate in ballpark funding (neighboring counties that helped fund The Diamond were not interested in funding a new ballpark) to where the ballpark would be located.
From the Times-Dispatch’s John O’Connor:
Joe McEacharn chose not to detail the signs, but referred to them as “very positive” and “very firm.” Among the determinations yet to be made is a location. Since 1954, Richmond’s professional baseball team has played at the Boulevard site now occupied by The Diamond, which opened in 1985.
“Once that decision is finalized, that will get the ball rolling,” said McEacharn. He added that he is not active in the discussions, but receives regular reports on them.
Though the city’s choice for a ballpark site has not been publicly revealed, McEacharn’s view is that city officials are leaning toward Shockoe Bottom. The lack of a ballpark to replace The Diamond influenced the Atlanta Braves after the 2008 season to relocate their Triple-A franchise, which they owned, and has frustrated the Squirrels’ owners and operators, and the league.
Talks have been ongoing, to be sure, and insiders expressed great optimism to us regarding a ballpark plan at December’s Winter Meetings.
RELATED STORIES: MiLB squirrelly about new Richmond ballpark; Flying Squirrels: New ballpark still a priority; Flying Squirrels extend Diamond lease, setting stage for ballpark improvements; Experts: Downtown ballpark could revitalize Richmond; Squirrels: No plans to leave Richmond “at the present time”; Didn’t take long: Opposition rises to Richmond Shockoe Bottom ballpark site; Richmond ballpark discussion shifts back to Shockoe Bottom; Manchester in play as well; Richmond: Yes, we really do intend on building a new ballpark; Budget issues postpone Squirrels ballpark to 2015 at the earliest; New Richmond ballpark by 2014?; DiBella: Time to start talking new ballpark; Flying Squirrels throw out first offer on new ballpark; Baseball returns to Richmond’s Diamond — but for how long?
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