Leading up to the 2018 season, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) will make improvements to The Diamond, including upgrades to the lighting and sound system.
While landing a new ballpark remains a key objective for the team, the Flying Squirrels have some changes coming to The Diamond that will affect both the fan and player experiences. Along with the improvements to the lighting and sound system, the team is also planning to extend protective netting and install padding on the backstop, foul-line, and outfield walls.
At this point, the Flying Squirrels continue to work with both Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the City of Richmond to obtain a new ballpark. However, Flying Squirrels chief executive Chuck Domino indicates that the upcoming upgrades are part of a priority to make The Diamond a safer facility for fans and players alike. More from The Richmond Times-Dispatch:
The backstop is being replaced by the same thin, black netting that will be installed to the end of each dugout. Domino said about 1,200 more fans will be protected by the extended netting.
“It’s public safety with the netting. It’s safety for the players with better lighting and a better padded wall, and it’s enhancing the environment with a better speaker system,” said Domino. “I think all of these things, especially the padding and the lighting, are all pretty important things as we’re going to host the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game.”
The Squirrels and city continue to work toward a new stadium, with VCU also involved.
“All these things had to be done at The Diamond, regardless. It’s not fair for a player to be penalized because it’s not the safest field, simply because we’re hoping for a new stadium,” said Domino. “It doesn’t change our stance on a new stadium and still wanting to get a new stadium.”
The Diamond originally opened in 1985 for the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League), and was home to that franchise until it relocated to Gwinnett County, GA prior to the 2009 season. The Flying Squirrels have played at the ballpark since 2010.