In a nearly worthless poll, the Richmond Times-Dispatch discovered suburban voters love the idea of a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark be built for maximum suburban access.
The poll of 694 people in Richmond (which, under Virginia law, isn’t within a county) and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover showed overwhelming support for a new ballpark location to be near The Diamond, the team’s current home. The poll also indicated that most of those polled didn’t actually think the team needed a new ballpark, but if there was one, it should feature good free access close to suburban residents. From the Times-Dispatch:
With Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones seemingly poised to announce a new stadium as part of a private economic development project in Shockoe Bottom, a strong majority of residents surveyed in all four jurisdictions say a new stadium should be built on the Boulevard.
Just 22 percent favor a stadium in Shockoe Bottom, although support for a downtown ballpark was highest, at 28 percent, among residents of Chesterfield, which generally has greater access to downtown than the other counties….
Tammy D. Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary, said in response to the poll’s findings that “we feel it is most useful to discuss specifics of proposals and not debate concepts.”
Now, we don’t mean to rag on the Times-Dispatch, which in general has done a very good job explaining the pros and the cons of a new ballpark at both the Boulevand and downtown at Shockoe Bottom. The poll is extremely flawed in one respect: when you ask suburban voters where a ballpark should be built, they will inevitably say it should be built near the suburbs, next to easy freeway access for the suburbanites. That’s the way it is everywhere, and that’s the way it’s been every time a city has debated the merits of a downtown location versus a more suburban area: the suburban area will poll well until the downtown ballpark opens, and then all of a sudden worries about parking and crime dissipate. So the response to this question was not only highly predictable, it’s worthless in any actual decision on a ballpark site — especially when the suburban counties that helped pay for The Diamond have refused to help pay for a replacement. In other works, the residents of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover counties would very much like Richmond taxpayers to totally pay for the cost of a new ballpark in a place where they have easy access.
RELATED STORIES: Richmond: No vote on ballpark location; Flying Squirrels: Fans don’t know what they are missing; Richmond committee: Don’t put ballpark location to vote; Richmond ballpark location may be decided by voters; New Richmond ballpark: on or off?; Shockoe Bottom gaining momentum as Flying Squirrels ballpark site?; Progress made on new Richmond ballpark: McEacharn; 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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