Gov. McAuliffe makes pitch to keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told listeners Thursday on his weekly radio show “Ask the Governor” that he is willing to be the buffer between city officials and the Richmond Flying Squirrels in an effort to keep the AA San Francisco Giants affiliate in Richmond.

“We need a new ballpark. We’re Richmond. We cannot lose the Squirrels. How do you lose a ball team? Is that a good message?” — Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife.

“It is a city issue, but I’m open,” McAuliffe explained. “I’d love to convene everybody. We’ll come over to the Governor’s Mansion and sit around the table. I offer my services.”

McAuliffe added that he loves the Flying Squirrels and it is not just an issue of keeping the team in Richmond.

“We need a new ballpark,” he said. “We’re Richmond. We cannot lose the Squirrels. How do you lose a ball team? Is that a good message?”

McAuliffe said he’s in favor of the Flying Squirrels staying in Richmond with a new stadium, and that’s really what the organization itself wants.City leadership has big plans for the land where the Diamond currently sits, and those plans don’t include the Flying Squirrels past the 2017 season.

Meanwhile, Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said last week if Richmond can’t find a suitable home for the team, minor league baseball isn’t coming back to town in any form.

“It’s not about what classification playing here,” O’Conner said. “It’s about the physical plan. It’s about the facility itself. The Diamond has served her purpose.

“She’s been a good stadium for an awful long time, but her time has come and gone, so regardless of what classification or what team plays here, you’re still going to have a facility issue for affiliated baseball.”

8News reached out to Mayor Dwight C. Jones office and he said he had not heard about the McAullife’s comment.

But Jones says he is always willing to talk and has been in conversation with the Squirrels over this matter.

The Flying Squirrels released the following statement about the McAullife’s comments:

“The Richmond Flying Squirrels welcome Governor McAuliffe’s enthusiastic support for keeping the team in Richmond in a new stadium. The governor has been a great fan and we love seeing him around the ballpark. The recent public hearings have shown overwhelming support for keeping the Richmond Flying Squirrels on the Boulevard; we are grateful to all those who have rallied behind us. We want nothing more than to work with all the interested parties to find a solution that makes that a reality for our fans.”

McAuliffe knows that he doesn’t have any say in the ongoing squabble between the ball club and City Hall but he wants the public to know that he is willing to jump into the fray.

“I don’t want to step in where I’m not supposed to but I love Richmond…I love the Squirrels.”

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