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Votes on new Richmond ballpark set to start next week

Proposed Richmond ballpark

The multiple votes needed to approve a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark are set to start next week, but the outcome is still up in the air.

Proponents and opponents of the ballpark have been counting votes on the City Council, but with some members unwilling to commit yet to one side or another, there’s no clear indication as to whether a plan to sell land at the current Diamond site and build a new downtown ballpark in Shockoe Bottom will live or die. Mayor Dwight Jones has been pushing the plan as an economic-development advance for the city. Opponents say it’s inappropriate to build a ballpark in an area once housing the United States’ second-largest slave-trading site; some also say the city shouldn’t push a plan that benefits a private entity. (Given that the Flying Squirrels rent of $1.7 million annually covers much of the ballpark construction costs and is one of the highest rents we’ve seen paid by a ballpark tenant, we’re not so sure the second argument carries much weight.) Still, the city is wandering into some uncharted waters here, and it will take multiple votes to actually make the Shockoe Bottom ballpark development happen. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The precise legal mechanisms for carrying out the project are not yet known, but the administration appears to be keeping the door open to a scenario in which no city-owned land in Shockoe would be sold, which would only require six of nine council votes rather than the seven long assumed to be the threshold.

The modified Shockoe development resolution, which is expected to come up for a council vote on Monday, states that land acquisition would occur “by purchase, lease or such other form of transaction as may be satisfactory to the EDA,” subject to the approval of the chief administrative officer. The administration is seeking council authorization to continue those negotiations, which would presumably result in a clearer picture of how the land deals would play out.

The first vote, as noted, is set for Monday.

RELATED STORIES: Flying Squirrels add more locals to ownership; Richmond ballpark revenues could be used for other purposes; Richmond ballpark opponents: Map used to justify location is inaccurate; Richmond purchase of Diamond: Making way for Shockoe Bottom ballpark; Alternative plan pitched for Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom: No new ballpark; Flying Squirrels lease: $1.7M annually; naming rights could lower that number; Squirrels ballpark plan include hotel, apartments, grocery; Richmond quietly positions for new ballpark; Activists: Ballpark not best use for Shockoe Bottom; Poll: Squirrels home should be built next to current ballpark; 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 siteRichmond ballpark discussion shifts back to Shockoe Bottom; Manchester in play as well; Richmond: Yes, we really do intend on building a new ballparkBudget issues postpone Squirrels ballpark to 2015 at the earliestNew Richmond ballpark by 2014?; DiBella: Time to start talking new ballpark; Flying Squirrels throw out first offer on new ballparkBaseball returns to Richmond’s Diamond — but for how long?


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