The very idea of a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark in the city’s Shockoe Bottom district is causing protests today because of the site’s past as a slave-trading area.
The coalition of activists and academics oppose putting a ballpark in an area that was once the second-most-busy area for slave trading in the United States, behind New Orleans. Activists have worked for years to locate a slave-trading museum in the area, but funding has not materialized. Still, their contention is that a ballpark on a culturally sensitive area is inappropriate.
This is not a new argument. Ever since former Mayor Doug Wilder proposed placing a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom, the reaction from some in the community has been that a ballpark is an incompatible use for the site. And while their pleas didn’t directly stop progress on a Shockoe Bottom ballpark site — inaction from city officials and a lack of funding did that — they could exert plenty of political force in opposition, particularly if Mayor Dwight Jones does indeed propose a Shockoe Bottom site instead of a new ballpark near The Diamond.
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