With a new design team in place and more control over the facility, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A; Eastern League) are moving toward a new-ballpark plan calling for around $3 million in annual rent.
That’s a monster number, of course; you’ll find some teams at $1 million or so annual rent, but if true–as reported by the reliable John O’Connor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch–the Flying Squirrels will be at the pinnacle of the MiLB rent standings. Please note that this is the gross rent we are discussing; VCU, whose participation in the ballpark plan has diminished to that of a tenant, will be paying its annual rent to the Richmond Flying Squirrels as a tenant. And there will be some naming-nights money to toss into the kitty as well.
But this is a big project, and you always have big numbers at the core of a big project. The new ballpark is the centerpiece of a $2.4 billion, 67-acre, mixed-use development at the current Diamond site and beyond. The development, to be implemented in four stages over 15 years, will include the ballpark, 6,800 structured parking spaces, 2,863 rental units, 157 homes, 935,000 square feet of office space, two hotels offering 330 rooms and 195,000 square feet of retail space. Previous announcements regarding the ballpark indicated 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 $80-$100 million. Here’s an overview of the development.
The other change, per the Times-Dispatch, is a change on the design side for the new facility:
The city is expected to deliver a construction budget to Charlotte-based Odell Associates Inc., a shift from the original plan.
RVA Diamond Partners — led by Thalhimer Realty Partners, Washington-based Republic Properties Corp. and Loop Capital of Chicago — in September 2022 was selected by the city as developer for the Diamond District, and listed the DLR Group for stadium design.
The change in design team and a decision to amplify the Flying Squirrels’ input in the ballpark design component of the massive redevelopment project was recently made. The modifications followed city representatives meeting with high-ranking Major League Baseball executives in New York during September and discussing the progress of Richmond’s ballpark plan.
The new Flying Squirrels ballpark is currently set to open in the 2026 season–well past the 2025 facility deadline imposed by MLB for MiLB teams to meet facility standards. Hence the attention of MLB execs.
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