RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A unanimous vote at Richmond City Council’s meeting on Sept. 27 constituted a major win for baseball fans across the community. Councilmembers voted to approve RVA Diamond Partner’s development proposal for the city’s Diamond District development project.
The highly anticipated project came to somewhat of a stall this summer as city officials hesitated to select its official developer. However, partly due to pressure from Major League Baseball, which imparted a tight deadline for the Squirrels to have a revamped stadium, city leaders picked up the pace around July.
Todd “Parney” Parnell, Chief Executive Officer of Richmond’s Flying Squirrels couldn’t contain his excitement when he learned the stadium was now officially in the works, which meant that his team could stay in Richmond.
“Booooom,” Parnell chanted on Tuesday afternoon when asked how he felt following City Council’s decision. He called the decision a win for baseball fans.
“I hopped out of bed today and basically skipped to work,” Parnell said. “I normally do that, but I skipped with a little more earnest today.”
Because the team remaining in Richmond was contingent on the project’s momentum, Parnell noted that navigating the changing timeline has been an emotional process.
“It was an emotional night,” Parnell said. “This is it, this is happening, and last night confirmed that.”
There’s still a long way to go before the full-scale project, expected to cost $2.4 billion, is complete. The new Diamond District is estimated to take around 15 years to build. In an effort to meet the MLB’s deadline, developers hope to have the stadium portion finalized by Spring 2025.
Officials with RVA Diamond Partners said they plan to hire a certain percentage of workers for the project directly from the community.
Parnell said that while he didn’t have a role in the design selection process, he’s thrilled to see a local developer selected. He believes maintaining solidarity within the community is a crucial element of the project.
“They’re local,” Parnell said. “Jason [Guillot] lives here, he’s the leader of this group. He knows what we mean, he knows what VCU means, he knows what the needs are of this whole entire project.”