A proposed new ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) is currently headed for defeat, with five council members poised to vote against a Shockoe Bottom plan.
Mayor Dwight Jones has proposed a plan that calls for the sale of land in the city’s Boulevard area currently serving as the site of The Diamond, with the proceeds going to fund a development in the city’s downtown Shockoe Bottom area, which would include a new Flying Squirrels ballpark, office and retail space, and a grocery store. It is an ambitious plan, to be sure, and the city has been struggling to make all the moving parts work: not all the land for the project has been acquired, and not all the financials have been made public.
That lack of detail has led five of the nine councilmembers announcing they’d vote against the project as is. This stance led to some fiery words from Jones on the eve of tomorrow’s scheduled council vote:
“For months, I’ve worked to build trust with City Council members under the leadership of Charles Samuels,” Jones said. “That trust has been damaged.”…
Jones had invited the council to a briefing on Thursday, where he said he will present “exhaustive details” that has not been presented to the full council.
“Council members are receiving the detailed information they requested, but most briefings have taken place in committee meetings or in lightly-attended informal sessions,” the mayor said. “Nevertheless, they now want to kill the project before hearing the information that staff, the developers and the baseball team have invested a great deal of time and expense to gather.”
Now, there’s the chance for a change of mind amongst council members; all it takes is one vote to flip the script. And this is more a referendum on Jones’ leadership than the merits of a new Flying Squirrels ballpark, although the success of the team, ironically, probably works against the Squirrels. It’s harder to make the case that a new ballpark is needed when the team is leading the Eastern League in attendance with 132,187 total, 6,957 per game.
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