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Richmond requests proposals for development, new Flying Squirrels ballpark

As expected, the city of Richmond has issued a Request for Interest in search of developers looking to create a 70-acre Diamond District, which would include a new $80-million Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A Northeast) ballpark.

The city controls the 70-acre site, located at located at the crossroads of I-64/I-95 and North Arthur Ashe Boulevard, four miles from downtown Richmond. It includes the current Diamond location.

“Richmond offers so many of the things people and businesses are seeking – location, diversity, authenticity and affordability,” said Mayor Levar Stoney in a city press release. “Richmond is the place to be, and the Diamond District is positioned to be a crown jewel in our economically thriving city.”

The Flying Squirrels have been in search of a new-ballpark plan for many, many years. Renovating The Diamond was never seen as a viable option for the city and owner Lou DiBella, and when MLB took over MiLB and issued new facility standards, it was clear the team had little choice but to move forward with a new-ballpark plan or run the risk of losing the team. The RFI issued by the city–you can read the whole thing here–hops on a big trend in professional baseball: build a new ballpark as the centerpiece of a new, larger development. Proposals are due February 15, 2022 at 3 p.m. ET, leading to another round of evaluations and a final decision on a development team by late spring or summer, but the biggest deadline calls for the opening of a new ballpark by the 2025 MiLB season.

According to a ballpark feasibility analysis prepared by AECOM, the goal for a new ballpark is a capacity of 10,000, with approximately 8,000 fixed seats and room for approximately 2,000 standing room patrons. In addition, the new ballpark would feature 20 suites and 500 club seats, with adjacent private club space that would be designed to be able to accommodate additional events like meetings, receptions, parties and other events. And, obviously, the new ballpark would meet current MiLB facility standards.

The analysis also assumes the city would see over $2 million in tax revenue generated by game attendees via a 10 percent admissions tax, sales tax, meals tax and hotel taxes. The $80-million price tax is a rough estimate.

There are a few conditions. The Flying Squirrels will play 65 games per year and VCU another 20 games per year, and the city has set a goal of 100 other events per year at the ballpark, placing it squarely into the multi-use category. The city also wants to see the ballpark privately financed or with a minimum of city money; it’s expected the team will contribute to the cost of building the ballpark as well.

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