Virginia Commonwealth University included a new off-campus ballpark in a recent master plan, showing another sign of a potential shared facility with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League).
In the fall of 2016, it was announced that the Flying Squirrels, VCU and the City of Richmond had agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding a new ballpark near The Diamond–home to both the Flying Squirrels and VCU baseball. For the Flying Squirrels, that announcement signaled their latest approach in their years-long search to replace The Diamond. No firm plans for a new ballpark have emerged in the period since that MOU was announced, but a new master plan from VCU includes mention of a new off-campus ballpark as a potential future facility.
Although the One VCU master plan was approved by the university’s Board of Visitors on Friday, it does not guarantee that the new ballpark–or any of the other potential facilities, for that matter–will be built. Furthermore, there are no firm assurances of a site at this point. Although a location across Hermitage Road from The Diamond that is currently used for a Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) warehouse has been frequently reported as a preferred option, the master plan does not mention a specific location or locations for a new ballpark. More from Richmond Biz Sense:
The master plan said that VCU Athletics conducted its own planning study to “relocate and consolidate facilities,” and that an off-campus site “will accommodate a new tennis center, practice fields, a baseball stadium and field house.”
The master plan, which is a nonbinding framework for projects VCU may pursue in the future, does not list an address or specific site in regards to a baseball facility, nor does it include the same slide that [University President Michael] Rao used in his presentation.
VCU Baseball shares The Diamond with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double A Eastern League affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Flying Squirrels open their season April 4 against the Hartford Yard Goats.
VCU and the Flying Squirrels reportedly have had their eye on a new shared venue since at least 2016, when the two signed a “memorandum of understanding,” expressing their joint interest in building a $50 million to $60 million stadium near The Diamond. The two sides never disclosed an exact site, although numerous news reports since have showed the ABC property to be a preferred option.
ABC is reportedly looking to depart its Hermitage Road warehouse for a newly constructed facility in Hanover County by 2021, though that plan is still pending certain approvals. 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 Diamond since 2010, their first season after moving from Norwich, CT, and have been looking for years to replace the aging facility with a new ballpark.
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