The Flying Squirrels announced today Ballpark Nutz, an advocacy group designed to spur action on a new baseball stadium and to facilitate an official city plan to do so.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels have announced the creation of Ballpark Nutz, a citizen advocacy group “designed to encourage regional action on a plan to fund and build a regional ballpark on the Boulevard.” The proposed $50 million ballpark would replace the existing Diamond, and serve as a potential venue for VCU sports, other college and high school games, and outdoor community events.
The saga of replacing the Diamond is now almost three years old. If you’ve missed some of the twists and turns along the way, check out this timeline of events to get you caught up.
“Our two years in Richmond tell us that this is a terrific sports town and a great place to live,” said Todd “Parney” Parnell, vice president and COO of the Flying Squirrels, in a press release. “We also know that we are not alone in believing that the region deserves a first-class ballpark, one that reflects Richmond’s standing as the capital of the Commonwealth. Ballpark Nutz will give fans a chance to let their voices be heard.”
Last October, president and managing general partner of the Squirrels, Lou DiBella, expressed public frustration about the city’s delays to initiate a specific plan to replace the nearly thirty-year-old Diamond. Shortly after DiBella’s public statements, Mayor Jones announced that the city was taking steps to prepare a site near the Diamond, although no specific plans emerged. The Ballpark Nutz initiative is likely a way to cajole the city into adopting an official plan of action.
“We see Ballpark Nutz as an important outlet for letting our fans express their support for a new regional ballpark,” said Brian Callaghan, founder and co-CEO of Richmond-based Apex Systems and minority shareholder in the Squirrels. “We recognize that the localities are facing difficult choices when it comes to budget priorities, and we believe that, if we work together, we can find a responsible solution that will have a new ballpark in place by the 2015 season.
It is expected that a new ballpark will take 18 months to build. The original tenants of the Diamond, the Atlanta Braves AAA affiliate, left Richmond following the 2008 season due to city’s waffling on building a new stadium. In October, DiBella indicated that the Squirrels are willing to contribute a construction-cost share equal to that of contributions made by area jurisdictions.
“It is our hope,” said Brian Callaghan, “that Ballpark Nutz, together with the political and business leadership from throughout the region, can help kick-start some momentum toward building a ballpark of which the Richmond region can be rightfully proud.”
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