The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Public Square program on Tuesday night was on where to play professional baseball in Richmond. Today, what was said at that forum still has tongues wagging. Proponents of the Highwoods Properties/Richmond Baseball Club plan to build a baseball stadium said that their opposition was made up of mostly old people who are […]
The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Public Square program on Tuesday night was on where to play professional baseball in Richmond. Today, what was said at that forum still has tongues wagging. Proponents of the Highwoods Properties/Richmond Baseball Club plan to build a baseball stadium said that their opposition was made up of mostly old people who are ill-informed … even selfish.
Professional baseball isn’t being played in Richmond this summer. Those who follow local news to do with baseball know that a Double A team, currently situated in Connecticut, is heading here next year.
Surely, that’s good news to Little Leaguers in the metro area.
The last time Richmonders didn’t have a local team to pull for was 1965. That was the year between the Richmond Virginians’ departure for Toledo and the arrival of the Richmond Braves. In 1966, the R-Braves took what had been the Atlanta Crackers’ slot in the International League, because the Milwaukee Braves relocated to Atlanta.
This time around the process of putting a minor league team on the field has been more complicated than it was in 1966. Over the last decade a number of proposals have surfaced that would have moved professional baseball to other parts of town, even to the suburbs.
In 2009 the matter seems to have boiled down to two distinct options in different parts of town:
- Refurbish The Diamond/or build a stadium in the same part of town
- Build a new stadium in Shockoe Bottom
Yet, after watching the Braves leave town, at least somewhat out of frustration with Richmond’s squirrelly moves, our City Council is still struggling with what to do. Mayor Dwight Jones doesn’t want to be wrong, either. Where to play baseball has become a political issue of such magnitude that it’s time for something to break the spell.
Well, at the Fan District Hub, we have a solution — it’s called democracy.
Although it’s not easy in Virginia, it is possible to have the voters weigh in where elected officials fear to tread.
It took studies and a campaign and eventually a citywide referendum, in 2003, to get rid of the old weak-mayor system in Richmond. Now voters in Richmond elect their mayor directly. Put plainly, Richmonders opted for pure democracy, without modifiers, when they got the chance.
Once the General Assembly saw the eye-popping results, which overwhelmingly called for the change, Richmond’s City Charter was amended. Mayor Jones, who once opposed that same change, now seems OK with it, too.
It says here, the question of where to play baseball should be put before the voters in much the same way. A non-binding resolution could be placed on the ballot in November.
Obviously, prudent Virginians don’t want a string of frivolous ballot issues to clutter up every election. But sometimes the only way to settle something is to let the people decide.
City Registrar Kirk Showalter tells me there’s not much real extra expense to the taxpayers to run such a referendum, when there‘s already an election taking place.
In my view, the voters of Richmond will turn out in droves to put the kibosh on the plan to build in Shockoe Bottom. But maybe I’m wrong. Either way, putting it on the ballot will provide political cover for Jones and other elected officials.
Maybe it should be a three-way choice: The Bottom; The Boulevard; Who cares? Baseball is unimportant!
Hey, some of the people who are opposed to the baseball stadium being built in Shockoe Bottom don’t understand every angle of the financing. That’s true. But calling them “dolts,” or “selfish,” or “ill-informed,” as some boosters for the Highwoods position have been wont to do, isn’t helping Kreckman, et al.
To be skeptical about the projections of the would-be developers isn’t the same thing as being against young people, or being backward, as was suggested by some of the pro-stadium-in-the-Bottom .
The politicians at the forum saw voters. And, way more than half of those voters were not buying what Kreckman and Bostic were selling. Politicians can do math.
This Public Square forum may well be remembered as the tipping point — the night the worst idea for developing Shockoe Bottom began to shivel like a wicked witch doused with a bucket of water.
A referendum will put and end to all the talk about a Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium.