The Richmond Flying Squirrels are on pace to welcome 450,000 fans to The Diamond this season, leading the Eastern League. Should that affect discussions about a new baseball stadium?
The Flying Squirrels lead the Eastern League this year in overall attendance (309,990) and average attendance per game (6,596).
The team’s vice president and COO, Todd “Parney” Parnell, said that in previous years, the Squirrels were “first in either average or overall [attendance]. But this year we’re leading in both.”
The Flying Squirrels inaugural season in 2010 brought an average of 6,626 fans per game.1 If projections play out, the Squirrels will beat that average. “It would be nice to average more fans in your fourth season than your inaugural one,” Parney said. “That’s why we’ve got to finish strong and run through the finish line.”
A new variable plays into Flying Squirrels attendance this year. The Redskins training camp will take place a short distance away from The Diamond. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the Redskins affect us. It’s definitely an unknown,” Parney said.
He added that this year’s attendance boon doesn’t null the need for a new, modern stadium. “The success of our team and of our gate at The Diamond doesn’t negate the fact that it’s an older facility,” Parney said. “Us being a league leader doesn’t make the number of stairs go away…the playing surface we’ve had trouble with go away…the inadequate scoreboard go away.”
He said that the stellar attendance underscores “how great our fan base is.” In that regard, the Flying Squirrels are one of the most successful teams in the league.
“Wouldn’t you rather build a new ballpark for a successful franchise rather than a failing franchise?” Parney said.
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- The team finished that year with a league-leading 463,842 total attendance, which would be difficult to top this year but still possible. ↩
photo by Anne Aurelia Lewis