It’s now a war of words over a proposed ballpark site for the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League), as the debate rages over the future of the Shockoe Bottom area.
The adversaries should be familiar to anyone following the arguments: Mayor Dwight Jones wants to see the area surrounding The Diamold sold for redevelopment and the proceeds used to fund a redevelopment of the Shockoe Bottom area that would include a ballpark, retail, housing and a grocery store. On the other side of the equation: activists who want to see Shockoe Bottom converted to a slave-trade memorial site.
Now, there’s lot of bluster going on right now, with pro-ballpark folks circulating materials laying out the case for Shockoe Bottom development — arguing, basically, that their plan is the only one to assume a slave-trade memorial — and slavery-memorial advocates saying they already have funding lined up. Neither side is being totally opaque: Jones still has not presented a comprehensive economic plan with numbers from The Diamond proceeds, and Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality are misleading folks by saying funding for a memorial site is already in place from the city and the state. Ironically, the only player in this whole mess to make an explicit and concrete financial offer is the Flying Squirrels ownership, who would basically pay for the new ballpark over time with one of the steepest MiLB lease payments we’ve seen.
So it looks like we’re in for some more debate, with Jones doubling down on the Shockoe Bottom ballpark location (terming a Boulevard location, near the current Diamond site, as being “second best”) and 50 or so ballpark opponents showing up again to a City Council meeting to express their dissatisfaction with Shockoe Bottom baseball.
RELATED STORIES: Shockoe Bottom business: Bring back ballpark plan; McEacharn: Lots of “frustration” with Richmond ballpark situation; 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
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