The Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) are hopeful about their pursuit of a new ballpark, as they are still working to replace The Diamond in the coming years.
Discussions about replacing The Diamond have taken place off and on over the years, and the Flying Squirrels’ latest pursuit is one that has the club hopeful. The team has been tied to discussions about constructing a new ballpark on a site across Hermitage Road from The Diamond that would also house Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) baseball. However, no firm plans have emerged to this point.
While new ballpark plans still need to come together, the Flying Squirrels are working in interim to make some upgrades to the fan experience at The Diamond. The latest upgrade was unveiled on Monday, when the Flying Squirrels showcased a new videoboard that will debut this season. That improvement, however, should not be taken as a sign that the team is halting its new ballpark pursuit, according to managing general partner Lou DiBella. In fact, the video display can be transferred to a new ballpark once it opens. More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
This is the Squirrels’ 10th season at The Diamond, which is expected eventually to be replaced by a ballpark adjacent to the property, across Hermitage Road, that may be operated by VCU and shared with the Squirrels. DiBella said Monday that the Squirrels plan to transfer the video board to a new stadium.
“Anybody who’s thinking this means there’s any less urgency [for a new stadium], or we’re resigned to being [at The Diamond] for the long-term, my response would be, with all due respect, ‘no.’ That’s not the case,” he said.
“We’re going to be able to move this with us and I’m very optimistic that things are going to move pretty quickly soon, and that there will be something to talk about. And we’ll be bringing that board with us in, hopefully, about three years. That’s my hope.
“This doesn’t signal at all any resignation or pessimism. It signals a realistic need of our fans to have this board to continue to enjoy the best experience in Double-A and in minor league baseball. I still think we’re the best experience. If we had a proper home, we’d be off the charts.”
In addition to a new videoboard, the Flying Squirrels are making other improvements to The Diamond this season, including a renovated merchandise store, plus the installation of new monitors around the concourse and near the entrance. The ballpark will host this summer’s Eastern League All-Star Game on July 10.
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, their first season after moving from Norwich, CT.
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