Ground has been broken on a facility to replace an existing warehouse across from The Diamond, an early step toward freeing up a potential site for a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark.
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–the current home of both the Flying Squirrels and VCU baseball. A site that has been seen as key to the effort is a 20-acre plot across Hermitage Road from The Diamond that has long been used for a Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) warehouse, but the agency has been working to relocate its operations. ABC took a major step forward in that push on Tuesday, breaking ground on a new headquarters and warehouse space in Hanover that is expected to be completed in 2021.
Virginia governor Ralph Northam has granted VCU first right of refusal to acquire the current warehouse site. It has been anticipated that VCU could use the property for an off-campus athletics complex that would include a new ballpark shared with the Flying Squirrels, potentially freeing up 60 city-owned acres that includes The Diamond and surrounding land for private redevelopment. The concept is one that is not finalized at this point, but ABC’s groundbreaking of a facility that will replace the current warehouse space could ultimately be a catalyst for helping to move new ballpark discussions forward. More from RichmondBizSense.com:
Developers are hoping the city will issue a request for proposals on the 60 acres, while VCU’s been given the first right of refusal by Gov. Ralph Northam to acquire the ABC site, where the university has hinted at building an athletic village and stadium it would share with the Flying Squirrels.
At Tuesday’s groundbreaking, Northam reiterated that VCU and the Squirrels are still interested in the ABC property but nothing is official.
“That process is moving forward but the plans are to someday have a world-class stadium there that VCU and the Squirrels can use. They’re working through that right now,” Northam said.
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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