RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Mayor Levar Stoney said Richmond shouldn’t worry over the future of the Flying Squirrels, saying he’s confident the team will remain in the city “for the long term.”

Lou DiBella, the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ president and managing partner, recently raised concerns that progress on a new ballpark to replace The Diamond could jeopardize the team’s future in the city as Major League Baseball has set a 2025 deadline for teams to make upgrades.

“Sadly, with imminent deadlines looming, we cannot be confident that the future of the Squirrels in Richmond is secure,” DiBella said in a statement last week.

Mayor Stoney said Wednesday he believes a new stadium, which he described as “a state-of-the-art baseball facility” for not just the team but the entire Richmond region, will be done quickly enough to ensure the Flying Squirrels stay in Richmond.

“I’m confident and optimistic that the Flying Squirrels will be here for the long term,” Stoney told 8News’ Autumn Childress at a broadband groundbreaking ceremony at Huguenot High School.

Stoney, who first shared this belief with The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board, credited his administration and RVA Diamond Partners, the team picked to redevelop the city’s Diamond District, for “working around the clock” for the last few months to build a new stadium.

The first phase of the $2.4 billion Diamond District project will include a new baseball stadium to replace The Diamond, more than 1,200 housing units, a hotel and retail stores. RVA Diamond Partners will redevelop nearly 22 acres of land for the new 10,000-capacity stadium and surrounding projects, according to the city’s term sheet with the developer.

Nutzy and a friend at the Flying Squirrels game on June 11. (Photo: Tyler Thrasher/WRIC)

When asked what his message to Richmonders would be, Stoney told 8News he “would say don’t fret” about the Flying Squirrels leaving the city.

“We have a great team, a great partnership in place and they all want the Flying Squirrels to be here. And they also want to ensure that the Flying Squirrels and Richmonders have the best possible facility,” Stoney said Wednesday. “So, we’re going to do our part by representing the city. They’re going to do their part as well. And I think we’re going to deliver something great for the Richmond region.”

According to the team, the Flying Squirrels ended its 2022 season with the highest total and average attendance in Double-A baseball.