RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — $1.8 million in taxpayer funding will soon help bring the aging Diamond Stadium up to Major League Baseball standards, as Richmond City Hall considers redevelopment proposals from developers.
Squirrels Vice President Todd “Parney” Parnell said, “the city has really stepped up and shown MLB and us that they’re very serious about the Squirrels and keeping baseball in Richmond.”
The Richmond Department of Public Works recently said the light levels in the infield have gone down by 40% after the last two seasons, and 25% in the outfield.
The department also cited a need to build another batting and hitting tunnel to comply with MLB standards.
Despite gratitude among senior leadership for the Flying Squirrels following city council’s decision to renovate, the clock ticks for the minor league to remain in Richmond.
Squirrels President Lou DiBella said if a new stadium is not built by 2025, “there will never be baseball again in Richmond,” a call for an expedited redevelopment.
The 37-year-old stadium is the centerpiece of city hall’s redevelopment plans for the ‘Diamond District,’ located between North Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Hermitage Road, just north of West Leigh Street.
Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration is actively considering 15 interested developers who submitted requests for interests last month, and reportedly will be considered into this month.
The total assessed value of the Diamond, including the land and building assets, were valued at $14,968,00 in January.
Stoney has expressed optimism the Diamond redevelopment project can get done. But a few recent major construction projects he has backed have failed to get off the ground.
The $1.5 billion ‘Navy Hill’ redevelopment project, promising to raze the vacant Richmond Coliseum downtown, was squashed by city council.
A casino project in the south side was turned down by voters at the ballot box in November.
But do the Squirrels have confidence in the Diamond plan? Parnell said, “Every morning, I click my heels together and say, ‘I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe.'”
Parnell and DiBella said the $1.8 million renovation will not be an expensive Band-Aid until a new stadium can be built, promising that the lighting and tunnel installations can be used at a new stadium or at another city facility.