With a new Shockoe Bottom ballpark plan on the rocks, Eastern League President Joe McEacharn expressed his frustration with the problems in addressing a new ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Mayor Dwight Jones withdrew his proposal for a Shockoe Bottom plan that would sell land at the Boulevard area — currently the location of The Diamond, the team’s current home — and use the proceeds to fund a development plan that would include office, retail, a grocery store and a new Squirrels ballpark. Ironically, the Flying Squirrels would come in way behind developments when it came to being beneficiaries of the plan: a rent of $1.7 million annually would go a long ways toward addressing ballpark debt.
But the Flying Squirrels have been caught in the crossfire; Jones withdrew the proposal after it became apparent the City Council would reject it. That leaves the Flying Squirrels back at square one: playing in an outmoded facility that is literally crumbling. And that leaves McEacharn questioning how committed city officials are to addressing the team’s desires. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
“People really speak so highly of the fan base and their baseball aptitude and enthusiasm,” McEacharn, the EL president since 2003, said of Richmond in an interview Thursday. “People from outside the community, or people from outside (the) immediacy of trying to get a stadium deal done, can’t understand it. They simply say, ‘Those fans love it. They’re so enthusiastic. I don’t understand why they can’t get a stadium deal done.’
“I usually follow that with, ‘I don’t understand why they can’t get a stadium deal done, either.’ ”…
McEacharn said he respects what the mayor is attempting to do, but from the league’s perspective, “there’s a lot of frustration, a lot of disappointment — disappointment not in any one individual, but disappointment that (the Richmond) community remains so divided.”
The next step remains uncertain. There’s no doubt The Diamond is a subpar facility: built quickly of concrete and rebar, it sports narrow concourses, poor accessibility and plenty of water damage. Unless we’ve missed something, there’s been no study of how bad things are at The Diamond: perhaps something concrete about the facility’s future would generate some action by the city.
RELATED STORIES: Flying Squirrels ballpark plan on hold; Richmond ballpark plan lacks council support; Deal reached on Flying Squirrels ballpark funding; Shockoe Bottom back to top site for new Flying Squirrels ballpark; Private funding of new Squirrels ballpark in the works; Flying Squirrels ballpark site under historical review; Flying Squirrels ballpark plan advances; Votes on new Richmond ballpark set to start next week; 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 site; Richmond ballpark discussion shifts back to Shockoe Bottom; Manchester in play as well; Richmond: Yes, we really do intend on building a new ballpark; Budget issues postpone Squirrels ballpark to 2015 at the earliest; New Richmond ballpark by 2014?; DiBella: Time to start talking new ballpark; Flying Squirrels throw out first offer on new ballpark
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.