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Flying Squirrels ballpark plan emerging

The Diamond Richmond

Finally: it’s being reported that a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A Northeast) ballpark plan is moving forward, with some sort of announcement planned for coming days.

The indefatigable John O’Connor, who has been reported on ballpark planning in Richmond for the Times-Dispatch since the days of the Triple-A Braves, is reporting that a new ballpark plan is finally ready to be unveiled, with the city ready to issue a Request for Interest (RFI) from developers for the site expected to include the new facility. That doesn’t mean we’re quite ready for construction any time soon, but it does indicate that the clock can officially begin ticking on development of the new ballpark. It’s an important moment for the Flying Squirrels, as owner Lou DiBella has repeatedly warned that if a new ballpark is not forthcoming, the area could again lose professional baseball. From O’Connor’s article in the Times-Dispatch:

Before year’s end, the city of Richmond intends to release a Request for Interest (RFI), an invitation to developers to become involved with the redevelopment of about 67 acres North Arthur Ashe Boulevard. That site includes the current location of The Diamond, which is projected to be eliminated and replaced by a new ballpark.

RFIs often include project details. The city has not revealed a timeline, the location of the ballpark, or a financing plan. Surrounding jurisdictions and VCU, whose baseball program would share the stadium with the Flying Squirrels, and the team will likely play roles in financing….

In the city’s “vision” for what will be known as The Diamond District, “The Diamond is demolished and a new multi-purpose stadium is constructed. New buildings provide employment, retail and mixed-income housing.”

This vision is not new; VCU and the city unveiled major portions of the plan earlier this year. And while the RFI doesn’t yet commit anyone to a new ballpark and development, it does significantly move the process forward.

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