Work on a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark in Shockoe Bottom will continue, as the City Council voted to spend $10.6 million in the current budget cycle on land acquisition.
The Council had threatened to strip all ballpark funding from the budget, but negotiations led by Mayor Dwight Jones led to a restoration of the funding. Ballpark opponents had painted the debate as a choice between school funding and ballpark spending, but the compromise takes some money originally earmarked for the ballpark and puts it toward schools. The new amount — $10.6 million, as opposed to $13.6 million originally budgeted — will be used for land acquisition and other planning.
In the long run, this is a blip: ballpark spending represents an awfully large pot of money, and any financially strapped municipality is bound to look at raiding it for other purposes. And building a new ballpark in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom area is a complicated project with lots of moving parts: money from the redevelopment of the Boulevard area (where the team currently plays at The Diamond) will be used to fund the Shockoe Bottom revitalization, which will include the ballpark, grocery store, retail and housing. But more moving parts also means more potential points of failure, and all those potential points of failure will be tested as the ballpark project moves forward.
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