Though Mayor Dwight Jones has been pushing a Shockoe Bottom ballpark and the Flying Squirrels have offered one of the most expensive leases in Minor League Baseball, there’s been plenty of opposition to the downtown location; black activists want to see the Shockoe Bottom area preserved for a slavery museum, and many current fans want to see the ballpark location stay near The Diamond. This tussle has been going on for years, and that scenario played out in 2014 as well.
So what would be different in 2015? Two things: recognition on all sides that some sort of resolution is needed, and a desire by a nonprofit to perhaps place a new children’s hospital in The Diamond area. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Last month, the council voted to instruct the Richmond Economic Development Authority to explore the option of purchasing much of the Shockoe land the mayor pegged for a stadium, regardless of its future use. That measure was requested by 1st District Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles, who is expected to meet soon with EDA officials to discuss how to move forward.
Another piece of pending council legislation would ask Jones to seek regional participation in a new stadium. That measure has been postponed for several months and is currently scheduled to come up again Jan. 12….
The 60-acre, city-owned Boulevard site where The Diamond currently sits has been considered as a potential location for the hospital. The group has received more than 20 site proposals from the city and surrounding counties.
All of this is still preliminary, of course. And with the Squirrels signing a new lease, there may not be the urgency needed to make a new ballpark deal work. But hope springs eternal.
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