Mayor unveils plan for baseball, redevelopment in Shockoe, new Slavery Heritage Site

If the Mayor gets his way, Shockoe is going to get a massive facelift.

Mayor Dwight Jones stood on what will be home plate of the new Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium, effectively ending debate about where the new home would be for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

“We have made the decision and we move forward from this place,” Jones said to hundreds of onlookers, including scores of protestors. That decision shores up not only where the new stadium will be located, but its influence on Shockoe Bottom and the proposed Slavery & Freedom Heritage Site as part of the Mayor’s Revitalize RVA plan.

Play Ball

Jones said that both the Boulevard (current location of The Diamond) and Shockoe Bottom were analyzed to decide which site would yield the best economic impact for the city. “Shockoe is the right location,” Jones said.

The new stadium will rest below ground level and will feature 7,200 seats, a full 360-degree concourse, and over 5,000 parking spaces after erecting a new 1,700-space parking deck.1 “This will be the best ballpark in minor league baseball,” Jones said. The stadium will cost an estimated $80 million and is expected to open by the start of the 2016 season.

In addition, the Mayor said Kroger will build a 60,000-square foot grocery store in the vicinity of the stadium, alleviating what many consider to be a food desert in the area. Hyatt will also construct a nearby 200-room hotel. An apartment building will rise just beyond the future stadium’s right field. All told, 750 new apartments will be built: 200 connected to the ballpark, the remaining 550 immediately across Broad Street. These pieces will be built simultaneously with stadium construction.

Jones said the new stadium and supplemental development will bring $10 million in revenue each year, versus that of the projected $6 million annually on the Boulevard. Overall, the net new tax revenue will be $187 million (only $91 million was projected for the Boulevard), revenue that, Jones said, is “crucial to making the ballpark pay for itself.”

He said that 400 permanent jobs will be created, in addition to 1,000 construction jobs, which Jones touted as a way to help fight the city’s 26 percent poverty rate. Jones said that Shockoe has a “far better return on our investment” versus that of the Boulevard.

Flying Squirrels Vice President and COO Todd “Parney” Parnell attended the event along with the organization’s 27 full-time employees2 to voice support for the Shockoe stadium plan.

“The time to discuss a [new stadium] location is over,” Parnell said, a public declaration on behalf of the Squirrel’s organization in favor of moving baseball to Shockoe Bottom.

“We love Richmond,” he said on behalf of the organization. “We know that Richmond will continue to love us here in the Bottom.”

Boulevard of broken dreams

While baseball will not remain on the Boulevard for much longer, the Mayor indicated that it will not be abandoned. He mentioned no firm plans for the multi-acre site, but said many “conversations” will take place concerning how the current site of The Diamond will be used for future development.

Slavery & Freedom Heritage Site

The mayor and additional speakers at today’s event were often interrupted by scores of protestors lambasting the proposal for what they perceived as desecrating historical sites, including Lumpkin’s Jail.3 From the 1830s to the end of the Civil War, countless African-Americans were confined and tortured in the surrounding area before being auctioned off. Mayor Jones affirmed that that history will not be overlooked. “This is a story that should not be buried,” the Mayor said.


Funds generated by the baseball stadium and ancillary development will help fund the construction of an interactive Slavery & Freedom Heritage Site4 designed to bring tourists and visitors to the historic site. “We want everybody to know what happened in Richmond a long time ago,” Jones said.

The Mayor grew impassioned when describing how Robert Lumpkin’s ex-slave wife ultimately led to the construction of what would become Virginia Union University, the mayor’s alma mater.

Virginia Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70th District), who has chaired the City Council-created Richmond Slave Trail Commission for the past decade, spoke in favor of the Shockoe redevelopment plan featuring an interactive Heritage site.

“This is the right plan for Richmond and it seriously talks about telling the American story the right way,” McQuinn said. “I am excited about it.”

The Mayor didn’t announce specific plans on what would constitute the future Heritage site, but affirmed he is open to public consideration about it. “I am committed to that ongoing dialogue,” he said.

Additional meetings and public outreach related to the new Shockoe baseball stadium and development, Slave & Freedom Heritage site, and development on the Boulevard should be announced in coming days and weeks.


— ∮∮∮ —


  1. There are roughly 2,500 space currently at The Diamond. 
  2. Along with Nutzy. 
  3. Also known as the “Devil’s half acre.” 
  4. Capital One has committed to steering efforts to raise $30 million for the Heritage site. 

Photos courtesy of

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Play ball!! I’m a city resident and would like to know where I can buy season tickets for my family of 4 (including 2 very young children)? What a great day for Richmond!

  2. Stuart on said:

    “Jones said the new stadium and supplemental development will bring $10 million in revenue each year, versus that of the projected $6 million annually on the Boulevard.”
    Exhibit A why this plan makes no sense: at 4% interest the annual service to $80 million in principal is over $4.5 million. $10mil-$4.5mil = $5.5 mil in revenue in the Bottom vs. $6 million in revenue on the Boulevard. It’s a terrible sham and $80 million is a ludicrous amount of debt to take on for a megastructure that gets used 70 times a year.

  3. David on said:

    I wonder if more people will move to the counties to be closer to better schools, or to the city to be closer to a better AA Baseball stadium?

  4. Paige Harvey on said:

    I find it hard to believe that even though more than 80% of Richmonders polled by the Times Dispatch DID NOT want this to happen, our money hungry mayor still thinks it should….apparently he doesn’t care what the people who live here think about this idea.

  5. channeling my favorite English teacher, Mrs. Lasswell, today, God rest her radiant soul. I would personally give this article an A. only reason it’s not A+ is b/c there’s always room for improvement. but not much room. this is a wonderful piece. ty Nate.

  6. Cool plan and all, but who is paying for this? Oh yeah, me, the city taxpayer. Yet i’ve never shown interest in a new baseball stadium…something is wrong here.

    My quesiton to those in can you put this above schools, roads, and utilities? How the hell do you justify that? No one in support has yet been able to answer that question.

  7. Austin on said:

    Would it be cool to have a new stadium? Sure.

    Should the public help finance it? Absolutely not. Claims of stadiums being net benefits to cities’ economies are dubious at best and outright false at worst. The Squirrels want a new stadium; let them and their investors pay for it.

  8. Paige,

    If by money hungry you mean bringing more people and money into the city, then I disagree with you. If you mean he’s corrupt, then we need to know what you are basing that on.

  9. It seems the Diamond will be a thing of the past, listen back to some history of the Diamond and Baseball in RVA on History Replays Today, The Richmond History Podcast. Its free on iTunes, Stitcher, Tune in, and other podcast managers or at

  10. Lucas on said:

    All I want to do is get drunk at a baseball game, stumble to a bar to continue drinking, and then take a cab home. I can do it in Baltimore. Now I’ll be able to do it here in RVA.

  11. Brian on said:

    besides the visiting team, who else is going to stay in this hotel…seriously.

  12. I wanna know who will pay for this? The schools are underfunded and failing, yet we are willing to throw millions into minor league baseball stadium? I dont understand. If you want real economic growth why dont you start by improving the education system, then we would be producing more able body citizens to enter the work force.

  13. Dwight Faught on said:

    I lived in the bottom and may again some day, I think that a sports stadium of any type in such a historical area is an insult to the history and heritage of VA. When will cities stop selling out to increase the profits of sports team owners, Our hospitals, schools and history should bring people to the city not some sports event. PERIOD

  14. Plan looks great at first blush, but why waste the current site? How about the plan as shown by Jones, with an outdoor music/entertainment venue in the bottom? That way visitors have the bottom for the heritage attractions, an amphitheater for entertainment, then they can visit more of RVA by moving toward the Boulevard for the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art and the new stadium? That makes great sense, spreads the dollars around, draws folks west…

  15. Church Hill resident on said:

    How will this area support the increased traffic? There are limited arteries into and out of this geographic area. As someone who lives in Church Hill and has to drive through that area to get to other parts of Richmond, this Stadium sounds like a nightmare. Not a fan of this plan.

  16. Prior to the Redskins deal, I just might have been in favor (or at least open to the idea) of moving the ballpark downtown.
    However, has no one given any thought to have a multi-sports complex or draw to the Boulevard area? Why not capitalize on the Redskins addition and double down on having this corridor be the heartbeat of sports in RVA?

  17. Jess G on said:

    Completely agree with Church Hill resident…it took me 15 minutes to go 4 blocks one morning when there was not even an accident nor a drop of rain. I agree that a grocery store and museum of sorts are appropriate for the area, but reject the claim that a ballpark is required for that to happen. Figure something else out for your consituents, mayor/council people; it’s your duty.

  18. CindyM,
    The ballpark is an outdoor music venue.

    Church Hill resident,
    The question is, how often do you drive thru Shockoe Bottom between 6 & 7 and 9 & 10. Those will be the hours with the most traffic. Leigh Street should be a pretty reliable alternative. Balance the inconvenience against the convenience of having another grocery within walking distance and a safer Shockoe Bottom.

  19. The loss of parking in Shock Bottom to build these new structures which is already experiencing parking issues is amazing. And to take 2500 parking spaces supported at the Diamond location to just a single 1700 parking spaces in a new structure which is not solely for the baseball stadium spells parking disaster for this baseball stadium. Since the majority of attendance is from people in the surrounding counties and not the city itself, giving them a bad experience of poor parking and traffic issues will give them reason to never return again for a baseball game. This is poor planning and setting up the baseball stadium to fail.

  20. Former Church Hill Resident on said:

    I love the idea of a grocery store. After 3 years on the hill, I was happy to move to a spot with more choices…aka Henrico County. Dwight Jones is the bane of Richmond. Do people even know that their tax dollars, which are higher than the county taxes, pay for a security detail for this moron? I guess when the floodwall fails AGAIN, the new ballpark will serve to soak up the flood waters.

  21. Greg P on said:

    Paul, I think that those times can be high traffic times and Leigh Street is a highly inconvenient alternative.

    Those points aside (and this is for anyone who may have input), I’ve yet to see any data as to why Shockoe is the best spot for a new stadium to the exclusion of any other options. In addition to Manchester was any thought given to Fulton, Rocketts, any northside or Stony Point? Throughout this process it seems like a false choice has always been presented between staying on the Boulevard or a Shockoe stadium. I think we need as much transparency as possible, not only into the economics of the proposed location, but as to what other options, if any, were considered and, if there were any, what disqualified them and an analysis of why this choice is preferable to not spending the dollars in another way.

  22. Scott Burger on said:

    The proponents of this plan (including Venture Richmond) keep saying the debate over the location of a new stadium is over (public be damned). They are wrong.

  23. RVA Zee on said:

    I can’t believe that no one has talked about what this could potentially do to the crime rate in that neighborhood! This area has some really nice restaurants and bars, but anyone will tell you that you better not walk around alone. And Captain Buzzy’s can’t get ABC because they are afraid of the crowd it will draw…. A baseball stadium is a place where thousands of people drink and get rowdy for hours, then spill out into the streets. I only lived in Church Hill for a few months and I saw countless fights and arrests at that Exxon station.
    Also, a Kroger, hotel and apartment building will go perfectly with the giant highway passing over the Main Street Station.

  24. As always, Haters be Hatin’…

    These plans are a tremendous shot in the arm to what should be the center of Richmond, Shockoe Bottom. Currently, Shockoe Bottom is a collection of vacant lots, vacant dilapidated buildings with zero excitement and energy and questions surrounding crime. These plans, if executed, would go a long ways to addressing the huge short comings of this area. Desirable, fun cities in this country have live urban cores that offer a variety of attractions and amenities geared towards families and young people. These Shockoe plans are a step in that direction, which open minded people who are not afraid of change and progress are seeing. Woops, I got off track, Mayor Jones is a crook, parking sucks, traffic sucks, taxpayers are getting screwed, etc….

  25. Morgan on said:

    Can’t wait to see all you naysayers at the first home game!

  26. But..the naysayers actually have some good points this time around. I don’t live in the bottom, but as a city taxpayer this is just blatant misuse of public funds. Again, as i asked before, why should money go towards a baseball stadium when we have one of the worst school systems in the state, have high property taxes, and high utility costs?

    Plus as mentioned before, why not renovate the current stadium and use this space for something richmond DOESN’T have? This plan is just wasting resources all over the place.

  27. Thomas on said:

    While I don’t think taxpayers should be forced into paying for this if they don’t want to, I think a lot of people are being ignorant about the crime and flooding and all the irrelevant topics being brought up. I’m sure it’s not about the money at all, you people just don’t want the area to progress. Then fine. It would be a damn shame to see it continue to sit there as a parking lot. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  28. Does anyone remember any of the floods over the past 15 years? This project is going to be underwater financially and physically more than once in the next 15 years. If Shockoe needs a new grocery store, parking garage, and housing now, than why do we need to increase traffic in that area to make it all moot. As for some of the other posters dreams of a Squirrels game followed by a night out at the bars, keep dreaming. Those places will be chased out by boutiques serving 12 dollar pints with a corporate logo tattooed across every surface. New slogan for the Bottom should be ‘Richmond: paid for by residents, enjoyed by yuppies from the suburbs.’

  29. Willis on said:
  30. Jack Berry on said:

    The Shockoe projects will revitalize a flood ravaged part of town that is currently nothing but surface parking lots and weeds. It will bring families with children to Shockoe, which will completely change the image of the neighborhood. It will free up 60 acres for high quality, tax paying development on the Boulevard which will generate more tax dollars for the City to invest in schools and safety. We get two major areas of town revitalized at once, a major slavery and freedom heritage site, a new gathering place on 17th street, the first full service grocery store for the East End, more residents, and a Hyatt Hotel. And it all provides new net revenues to the City budget. This is an opportunity we should seize. This is a future we should embrace.

  31. Well said, Mr. Berry. This is indeed a rare opportunity for Richmond for all the reasons you have stated. If executed, these Shockoe plans would go a long way in improving the City of Richmond. Would love nothing more than to see Richmond begin to reach its huge potential.

  32. With all due respect to Mr. Berry, no one is saying the stadium will have little to no benefit, like the Redskins Practice Facility or the Sixth Street Market. But we can use those experiences to temper our expectations. This is a rare opportunity, but it’s also risky for city taxpayers. Taxpayers pay long-term costs while constructions firms and politicians reap all the short-term benefits. So, a lot of us want to proceed cautiously.

    The numbers do not look realistic. Our experience with the Redskin’s Practice Facility should temper our enthusiasm a little bit and give us a better, more sober modifier for the algorithm that determines revenue projections. Let’s make sure all questions are answered. Those about the history of the area look like they are being answered. But those about tax revenue aren’t.

    When City employees and their partners in Venture Richmond violate FOIA requests, as they did with the Downtown Amphitheater, it makes it seem like they have something to hide rather than something to offer. One of the hidden costs to the Amphitheater is that Oregon Hill residents are going to be forced to yield their fundamental property rights every time Venture Richmond rents the site out. Or even uses the site without any restriction like they want to do. Even those of us who don’t live in Oregon Hill want to make sure we don’t pay those kinds of costs.

    Some people in the Bottom will be driven out of business because of the disruptions caused by massive construction. Is there any way to minimize this?

  33. Scott Burger on said:

    I have more thoughts on Berry, Venture Richmond, and this latest stadium proposal which I will share later.

    But for starters, let’s end this ridiculous game where developers allow an area to become a weed-infested, surface lot wasteland and then pretend to gallop to the rescue with their plans. Citizens then get told to fall in line with developers or face some dire consequences (like a folk festival or baseball team shutting down). It’s time that Richmond wise up and not fall for deceptive and ultimately dishonorable squeeze play sales jobs by the likes of Mr. Berry.

    Let’s make RVA more transparent and something that truly benefits all citizens.

  34. Jacob K on said:

    I see alot of comments in regards to how this money should go towards the schools etc. Dollar for Dollar the city actually pays more money for each child then most of the surrounding counties. The problem is not money.

    See this link:

    It shows that what we’re getting for the money is the problem. We don’t need to pour more money into the Richmond city schools. Despite the added money the city spends their teachers etc make less than the counties. The problem is the overpaid hired leadership and administration and the crony contract system within the schools. Thank goodness at least we have a new interim superintendent. Alot of the problems too lie with the families and broken homes, and the higher reliance on the schools as a provider of meals etc.. I really don’t see any great answers and that upsets me. But I will say this, it seems obvious to me that more money for the schools really isn’t the answer. If I’m wrong, just prove how I am and I’ll be happy to concede.

  35. So, as a financial backer of this stadium(a city resident) how much is a ticket going to cost me?
    Also the field is facing the wrong way. A properly designed stadium has you walking north east if you are walking from homeplate through the pitchers mound. SO here is 80 mil for a poorly designed stadium.

  36. s.nunn on said:

    Congratulations Richmond and Mayor Jones. Finally some progress for Richmond. A very well thought out plan. Well done!

  37. See today’s RTD (Nov. 13) lead piece. This isn’t just about the Bottom. It’s very much about the Boulevard and some big box anchored retail in place of the Diamond. Why is this so hard to grasp?

  38. I hear those things are awfully loud…
    It glides as softly as a cloud.
    Is there a chance the track could bend?
    Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
    What about us brain-dead slobs?
    You’ll all be given cushy jobs.
    Were you sent here by the devil?
    No, good sir, I’m on the level.
    The ring came off my pudding can.
    Take my pen knife, my good man.
    I swear it’s Springfield’s only choice…
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!


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