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Flying Squirrels: We’re willing to pay $1M annually in new-ballpark rent

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A; Eastern League) president and managing general partner Lou DiBella says he and his fellow owners are willing to pay $1 million annually in lease payments for a new Richmond ballpark as part of a 30-year lease.

As Richmond, the team and VCU continue to work on a development plan for the Diamond District, a new mixed-use area near the current Diamond site. With The Diamond effectively at the end of its economic life and not worth the tens of millions needed to bring it up to date when it comes to the modern fan experience, never mind the new MiLB facility specs imposed by MLB, a new ballpark for Richmond makes sense–and the city has requested bids from developers to ease any burden on taxpayers. 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 Flying Squirrels would play 70 games there, with VCU playing another 30. An additional 100 events are projected, with the cost of the ballpark forecast as $70-$100 million. Polar Park in Worcester cost $117 million, including $17 million in project overruns,

The city is evaluating bids, so the announcement by DiBella is a little preemptive, but useful to note during the debate. A commitment for $1 million annually is huge deal: we don’t know of another MiLB team paying that sort of rent on a shared facility, and neither had some of the MiLB owners we quizzed this morning. (If there is a team paying that much rent and you have working knowledge of this rent, let us know and we’ll update this story.) In addition, DiBella held out the possibility of sharing revenues to make the project work, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

DiBella said beyond the annual lease payments, the Flying Squirrels have no plans to contribute to a ballpark’s construction cost, but “that being said, could we potentially do some sharing of some revenue streams? Yes.”…

As we noted a week ago, the Flying Squirrels’ ballpark situation needs to be resolved by 2025, so the team and the city are working on a surprisingly tight schedule.

RELATED STORIES: Next development deadline looms for new Richmond ballpark Richmond requests proposals for development, new Flying Squirrels ballpark; Flying Squirrels ballpark plan emergingRichmond development to include $80-$100M Flying Squirrels ballparkMore Richmond ballpark progress?DiBella: 2025 now drop-dead date for new Flying Squirrels ballparkWill Flying Squirrels soar in the New Year?

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