RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Flying Squirrels organization will have to complete a list of repairs to the Diamond before the start of their baseball season this Spring.
After touring the diamond, Major League Baseball outlined the work that needs to be done before the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ opening day. The organization has certain facility standards for all minor league baseball stadiums.
The concrete roof support system at the Diamond is cracking and requires structural repairs. The ballpark must have an enclosed batting and hitting tunnel for each team. This means the park needs a new second tunnel for the visiting team. The locker rooms will also need to be renovated.
According to Todd “Parney” Parnell, the Chief Executive Officer of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, he would specifically like to see the female locker rooms updated as well as the stadium meeting the required safety upgrades. All repairs are required by the Major League Baseball standards that all Minor League ballparks are subject to.
Parnell says the Diamond was built in 1984 so it is no shock that it is in need of some upgrades.
“We’re driving a 1984 car, and you don’t want to put more money into a 1984 car but you do when you have to and when you need to,” Parnell said.
Parnell told 8News, in 2020 and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball took over 120 minor league teams across the country including the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He said facilities nationwide have to be upgraded before the season.
Crews have a little more than a month to complete the repairs before the start of the season on April 7.
“Our group sales for tickets for opening night, surpasses any other year that we’ve ever had, so we’re really looking forward to getting this done and getting going on April 7,” Parnell said.
This week, the city of Richmond’s Planning Commission recommended City Council approve an allocation of $3.5 million dollars to pay for the improvements.
“We have been working for the last year with the Squirrels to address MLB requirements and are doing what is necessary to keep the Squirrels playing in the existing facility until a new ballpark is built,” said James Nolan, a spokesperson for the City of Richmond.
Developers are hoping to have a new stadium completed in 2025, as part of the Diamond District project.
“We are obviously focused on working with the city and the developer, Avia Partners, to get the new ballpark built in 2025,” Parnell said. “So all of us — the City and the Squirrels and MLB — are working on as much as we can to keep playing here until we get the new ballpark built.”
Councilwoman Katherine Jordan and Councilwoman Ann-Frances Lambert oversee the section of the City where the Diamond is located. The City Council is expected to meet on Monday, Feb 27, to discuss the Department of Planning & Development Review Staff Report and the money needed for repairs.