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Will 2015 finally see Richmond ballpark solution?

Richmond Flying SquirrelsYes, we know the last several years we’ve expected some resolution to a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) facility, but this could finally be the Year of the New Ballpark.

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.

RELATED STORIES: Flying Squirrels announce ballpark upgrades; Flying Squirrels at The Diamond for two more years; 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; Flying Squirrels: Fans don’t know what they are missing

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