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Changes on tap for new Flying Squirrels ballpark

Faced with rising construction costs and MiLB-mandated deadlines, the city of Richmond is adjusting payment schedules and budgets for a new Flying Squirrels ballpark, including postponing the purchase of a VCU stadium at the site.

There has been several changes in the construction timeline and funding structure of the new ballpark and accompanying development–not totally unexpected given the size and complexity of a mixed-use $2.4-billion project that calls for a new Flying Squirrels ballpark while keeping open The Diamond, the team’s current home. The city’s Economic Development Authority has added $1 million to the design and development budget for the ballpark, and now the city has altered the timeline for acquiring properties for the project, including VCU’s Sports Backers Stadium, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

In an effort to lower costs, the city will defer $25 million owed to Virginia Commonwealth University. The move is designed to get the baseball stadium across the finish line, as the city quickly approaches a 2026 deadline. But the delay freezes VCU’s ability to build an athletics village on the other side of Hermitage Road.

The changes have no effect on the baseball stadium’s location or its construction schedule. Getting the stadium built on time has become increasingly difficult because of high interest rates and inflation.

“The budget for the ballpark has ballooned,” one person said. “The money has to come from somewhere.”

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 in the past forecast as $80-$100 million (we expect to see some new numbers this quarter).

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. 

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