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DiBella raises concerns on new Richmond ballpark

He’s raised similar concerns before, and he’s doing it again: Flying Squirrels president and managing general partner Lou DiBella is warning that if a new Richmond ballpark isn’t up and running by 2025, the area is in danger of losing Minor League Baseball.

Navigating the shoals of the steps needed to put together a new Richmond ballpark can be a little treacherous, especially in a situation where plenty of folks are involved, including third-party developers. So when DiBella was asked by the local newspaper about what’s happening in efforts for a new ballpark district near the team’s current ballpark, The Diamond, he stepped back and issued a statement:

“Since the Diamond District was announced, there has been very little progress for plans for a new stadium,” DiBella said. “Much needs to get done, but we are out of time to meet the requirements of Major League Baseball. This is not about your Flying Squirrels wanting a new ballpark. If there isn’t a stadium built that meets prescribed MLB guidelines, is suitable for professional baseball, and is worthy of the great city of Richmond, there will be no Opening Day 2026 in RVA.

“Sadly, with imminent deadlines looming, we cannot be confident that the future of the Squirrels in Richmond is secure. The next three or four weeks will be critical with respect to moving forward in the hometown that we love.”

Indeed, there are deadlines looming. Though it seems like there’s a lot of time until April 2025, the clock is indeed ticketing on implementing a financial and siting plan for a new Richmond ballpark. Design isn’t completed, though with a year or so needed for construction, there is still time. And while Richmond isn’t appreciably behind other markets in finalizing plans (as we’ll see in the next story we post), things are at the point where DiBella is concerned enough to issue the above statement.

And April 2025 is a hard deadline. The Diamond doesn’t come close to meeting the new MiLB specifications. It’s apparent the developers know how serious the deadlines are, as evidenced by the statement issued by RVA Diamond Partners, the development group overseeing the new Richmond ballpark and the rest of the $2.4 billion development:

“RVA Diamond Partners (RVADP) continues to work with City leadership and staff to finalize the legal, financial, and programmatic details required to bring this bold and ambitious project to fruition. This work includes detailed programmatic and design discussions with both the Flying Squirrels and VCU for the new ballpark that will anchor the Diamond District.

“Our team meets regularly with the Squirrels, VCU, the City, and our design and construction partners to ensure that we have a plan for a financeable ballpark that not only meets the needs of the teams and MiLB but delivers a fantastic fan experience through thoughtful integration with the public spaces, retail, residential, commercial, and hospitality uses planned for the broader Diamond District.

“RVADP has committed itself to this project since the award in September, and we continue to work towards a groundbreaking as soon as possible.”

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