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More Richmond ballpark progress?

Richmond Flying SquirrelsWith the state shifting Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority functions to a new site, the ABC’s current home should be vacant within the next 12 months, paving the way for a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A Northeast) ballpark.

This has been a process that’s taken a lot longer than anyone wanted, but the basic plan has been in place for since 2016: VCU would embark on financing and construction of a new athletics village in the vicinity of The Diamond in Henrico County. The preferred site was the current Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority warehouse location, being replaced by the new Hanover County facility. When the move is complete, the Henrico County warehouse will be torn down, with a new ballpark constructed there.

So far that’s the plan, but precious little of it is under control of the Flying Squirrels. Under the 2016 MOU signed by VCU and the Flying Squirrels, VCU will handle fundraising and construction of the new ballpark, and presumably control many of the ballpark’s revenue streams. Neither VCU nor the Flying Squirrels have control over when the ABC site becomes available or when demolition of the warehouse is completed–and the state is not committed to a timeline for anything.

Meanwhile, the Flying Squirrels are operating with some pretty firm deadlines on the other end; Team President Lou DiBello says the Flying Squirrels need to be in a new ballpark by 2025 based on MLB feedback to The Diamond. Indeed, there are precious few ways that The Diamond meets the new MLB facility guidelines, and it makes little sense for the team to invest in things like upgraded lighted and expanded clubhouses with a new ballpark on the way. Teams with facilities like The Diamond were warned by MLB about the provisional nature of their PDLs. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

DiBella on Monday said he is encouraged by the opening of the ABC’s Hanover location, calling it an “indication that the necessary pieces are moving around. I’m going to be honest, though. I think that I’m facing a deadline … We’re heading toward a time when our present facility will clearly be ruled as inadequate. It already has been judged inadequate, but it’s going to be … we’re not going to have the option of continuing [indefinitely at The Diamond].

“We now have a new arrangement, a new business arrangement, with baseball. And we were made very aware of deadlines and requirements. Right now, we’re supposed to be in full adherence with all Major League Baseball requirements, and we can’t be in this facility. So right now, we’re not in compliance.“We’re getting close to the time that we need to see more direct and meaningful announcements and action. I’m optimistic that they’re coming.”

“We’re getting close to the time that we need to see more direct and meaningful announcements and action. I’m optimistic that they’re coming.”

RELATED STORIES: DiBella: 2025 now drop-dead date for new Flying Squirrels ballpark; Will Flying Squirrels soar in the New Year?New Flying Squirrels ballpark tied to VCU developmentGroundbreaking Marks Step to Clear Possible Richmond Ballpark SiteNew Richmond Ballpark Could Anchor VCU Athletic ComplexVCU Includes Off-Campus Ballpark in Master Plan

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