The Sierra Club Falls of the James Group opposes the Shockoe Center baseball stadium proposal based on principles of conservation and smart growth. We preface our statement by saying we are not opposed to baseball or urban redevelopment. Rather, we wish to join the Richmond baseball discussion by imparting some basic environmental tenets that need […]
The Sierra Club Falls of the James Group opposes the Shockoe Center baseball stadium proposal based on principles of conservation and smart growth. We preface our statement by saying we are not opposed to baseball or urban redevelopment. Rather, we wish to join the Richmond baseball discussion by imparting some basic environmental tenets that need to be recognized.
First, let us agree that Richmond deserves a world class sports stadium within its urban footprint. However, if we examine what cities all over the world are doing with new facilities, we can see that they are incorporating conservation measures and ‘green’ technology. The Boston Red Sox outfitted Fenway Park with solar water heating. In Kent, England, the local soccer team has put in green roofs and green rainwater retention in addition to solar for its clubhouse. The San Francisco Giants are installing PV solar to power nearby homes and bringing in more recycling and biodegradable materials. Bern, Switzerland’s soccer team features the world’s largest stadium-integrated photovoltaic solar system. We all saw the lengths that China went to make its Olympic venues environmentally aware. In short, why not Richmond? The current proposal suggests that a baseball field in itself will function as better storm-water retention area than what the current site offers. While this might, possibly, remotely, be true (with the City spending lots of money on infrastructure), we demand more green features from this and future development proposals in all parts of the City.
While some view the proposed Shockoe location as beneficial for the City, many citizens and environmentalists question the concept of plunking a massive structure in the middle of several sensitive, historic neighborhoods, a growing transportation center, and the topography of the Shockoe Valley, creek, and floodplain. When we compare the proposed site to the existing Boulevard one, there is clearly a sense of purpose that conflicts with smart growth principles. Of course, there is the immediate problem of building the stadium in a floodplain with millions of taxpayer dollars required to improve drainage and retention. Displacing the water with a giant complex does not adequately solve the natural flooding. The intermodal transportation center that has long been a part of the Shockoe Bottom revitalization plan should not be hindered or complicated by accommodating a baseball stadium. Both the Boulevard and Shockoe site demand more pedestrian-oriented development, but the Shockoe site’s historic and natural features would be negatively impacted by a large stadium structure. We need to ‘Restore the Core,’ not bury it under more concrete.
In contrast, the Boulevard can still benefit greatly from baseball. As mass transit advocates, the Sierra Club believes a stadium-anchored Boulevard City center could be a popular stop for the City’s new bus rapid transit as well as fans commuting from the counties as they have done for generations. For these reasons, the Sierra Club strongly questions Shockoe Bottom as a location for the ball park.
Finally, the strongest environmental argument against the Shockoe proposal is that it spurns the re-usability of the existing Boulevard ballpark. Adaptive re-use is the most ‘green’ option there is. Concrete accounts for more than 5 percent of human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions annually, mostly because cement, the active ingredient in concrete, is made by baking limestone and clay powders under intense heat that is generally produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Making finished concrete products–by mixing cement with water, sand, and gravel–creates additional emissions because heat and steam are often used to accelerate the curing process. Destroying the Boulevard Diamond ballpark and building a whole new one in Shockoe Bottom will greatly increase the City of Richmond’s carbon footprint. Mayor Wilder, along with over 250 mayors from all over the United States, signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which seeks to reduce global warming. Certainly, polishing the existing Diamond, refurbishing it with more modern and green features is less wasteful, less detrimental when compared to creating a whole new stadium in a new location.
There are other arguments against the Shockoe stadium proposal (financial uncertainty, regionalism, open government are just a few of the issues). Many of them are being aired and heard in the local media. The Sierra Club calls for equal consideration of environmental concerns. We are confident that the public will not only recognize the true costs of this proposal if given the chance, but also join us in opposition.
On behalf of the members of the Sierra Club Falls of The James,
John Zeugner, Chairperson
Scott Burger, Vice Chairperson
Adele Maclean, Conservation Committee Chairperson
P.S. Our next general membership meeting is next Wednesday at 7 pm at the Science Museum. There will be a General Assembly update at that time.
– The information above was provided by Scott Burger