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Flying Squirrels Optimistic on New Ballpark Talks

Richmond Flying Squirrels

As the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) unveiled the latest enhancement to The Diamond, team officials indicated that new ballpark talks are making progress.

On Thursday, the Flying Squirrels announced the addition of Bistro at the Bullpen, a 27′ x 27′ lifted deck down the right field line. The project brings a new group space to The Diamond and certainly mixes up the ballpark’s options, but the team is still focused on the long term, which could include a new ballpark.

The latest step in the franchise’s search for a new facility is its current memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the City of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). If the terms of that MOU come to fruition, the Flying Squirrels and VCU will partner on a new ballpark that is to be constructed north of Hermitage Road, near The Diamond.

Talks on the project, which could cost upwards of $60 million, continue to take place, and Flying Squirrels owner Lou DiBella indicated that progress is being made. More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Acquisition of land north of Hermitage Road could be part of the development of a satellite athletics campus for VCU and also be used for the stadium that’s expected to cost approximately $60 million.

“People are continuing to work hard to make something happen that works for everybody, for the city of Richmond, to the counties, to VCU, to the Squirrels,” DiBella said. “I think there’s continued progress.”

In the MOU, VCU and the Squirrels anticipate a new stadium will accommodate “non-athletic events such as concerts, festivals or other community events.”

At The Diamond, the Squirrels have been one of Double-A’s attendance leaders since their arrival for the 2010 season. Last season, they averaged 5,745 at home games, which ranked second in the Eastern League and fourth among Double-A franchises.

“I’m more optimistic now than I’ve ever been,” DiBella said of the ballpark situation.

The Diamond, which originally opened for the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League) in 1985, has received some upgrades under the Flying Squirrels’ watch. Bistro at the Bullpen will accommodate 50 to 75 guests, and is expected offer beer and wine.

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