The city of Richmond is moving ahead on a purchase of The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League), as part of a master plan for a new downtown ballpark development.
The plan, as approved by the City Council yesterday, calls for a purchase of The Diamond from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority by the end of the year. It’s not The Diamond the city wants; it’s the land under the ballpark, which is an important component of a $200-million Shockoe Bottom ballpark development plan. The city would tear down The Diamond to make way for new development. Putting the ballpark area on the Boulevard back on public tax rolls will generate funds for the development of Shockoe Bottom with a new Flying Squirrels ballpark, grocery store, 700 apartments, a hotel and a slave-trade memorial.
It’s interesting to see the motives of folks opposed to this plan. Normally, when you’re talking about a ballpark as old as The Diamond (it was hastily built for the 1985 season), you have people stepping up to preserve the ballpark. But there’s not much love out there for the old concrete monstrosity: people opposing the project are against putting a new ballpark in Shockoe Bottom for various reasons (downtown location, slave-trade history there) or against moving baseball from the Boulevard, with its easy freeway access from neighboring counties. As it stands now, The Diamond is an unloved relic, and it’s funny to hear some city councilors express concern that the ballpark is in bad shape: no one expects it to be hosting pro baseball in five years.
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