A new ballpark shared with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) could anchor a Virginia Commonwealth University athletic complex, under concepts unveiled by university officials.
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. No firm plans have moved forward since, but the site of an existing Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) warehouse across Hermitage Road from The Diamond is being eyed for a VCU athletic complex that might include a baseball facility.
VCU is seeking to obtain the site as part of a land transfer, and would redevelop the property with off-campus athletic facilities. Three different concepts for the complex were presented to the Virginia House of Delegates’ appropriations committee on Monday, including two that would be anchored by a new ballpark. VCU officials are pitching the complex, which could also include an indoor tennis center and practice fields, as vital to long-term plans for its athletic department. More from Virginia Mercury:
Which brings us to Monday. Lawmakers agreed in principal this year to transfer the land, but only after VCU outlines exactly how they intend to use it.
At a meeting of the House of Delegates’ appropriations committee, VCU Athletics Director Ed McLaughlin outlined the school’s plan for the site in broad strokes for the first time, presenting three options.
Two include a baseball stadium. All include an indoor tennis center and some combination of practice fields for soccer and other sports.
McLaughlin’s pitch focused less on baseball and more on the broader needs of VCU’s sports departments, though, it’s worth noting that a stadium would take up about half of the 20 acre site, which sits across the road from the city’s current ballpark.
Plenty of steps would need to be completed from here in order to finalize plans, including a submission of a more detailed overview of a proposal from VCU by this fall and a determination of the land’s value. The General Assembly would also have to give any final approval.
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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