A site for a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark might open up in the near future, as the state agency that occupies the site could find a new location.
A site that has been discussed as an option for a new ballpark is a parcel on Hermitage Road that is currently used by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Citing a need for more space, Virginia ABC has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a larger space, making it possible that the agency could leave the 20-acre location across from The Diamond.
Should Virginia ABC move on, it would free up the land for development. Last fall, this site was reported as a possible ballpark location after the Flying Squirrels, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the City of Richmond announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a new Boulevard-area venue.
Responses to the RFP are due in August and an expansion of the existing space has not been completely ruled out, so it will take time for a final decision to be made regarding Virginia ABC’s future. However, it is anticipated that if Virginia ABC does move to a new location, that the land occupied by the current facility would be a prime location for development. More Richmondbizsense.com:
Mayor Levar Stoney, prior to being elected, reportedly participated in the negotiations for that agreement, which stated the group was eyeing a $60 million stadium project at an unspecified site near The Diamond. Stoney has said he would support the project only if surrounding counties ponied up their fair share.
Emails to the mayor’s office about the status of any stadium plan were not returned by press time.
A new stadium on the ABC site would free up The Diamond’s to join surrounding parcels for a total of 60 city-owned acres bounded by North Boulevard and Hermitage Road. The city already has teased developers with what it would like to see on the site.
If ABC decides to leave Hermitage Road and a new stadium doesn’t materialize on the site, [John Jay] Schwartz said, the property could lend itself to mixed-use developments, large office space or residential development.
The Flying Squirrels have spent years seeking a replacement for The Diamond, which originally opened in 1985 for the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League). The Flying Squirrels came to Richmond in 2010 after relocating from Norwich, CT.
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