A Republican legislator and a former Democratic Party of Virginia official have called on Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones to involve the public in the decision about where to build a minor league baseball stadium.
“It serves no useful purpose for the people to be the last to know what their elected mayor truly has in mind,” Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, a Richmond Republican, and Paul Goldman, a former state Democratic Party chairman, wrote in a letter to Jones dated Monday. “The competing interests are fundamental, the consequences of the wrong choice profound.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch confirmed this month that Jones is preparing to propose private development of a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom after he made a presentation in a private meeting with a small group of business leaders. Jones was accompanied at the closed-door session by Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall, the city’s financial consultant and an architectural firm that provided renderings of what the stadium would look like as part of a mixed-use development in the Bottom.
The presentation included financial comparisons by Davenport & Co. of a stadium as part of a larger economic development project in either the Bottom or on North Boulevard, next to The Diamond, where the Richmond Flying Squirrels currently play in the Double-A Eastern League.
The mayor responded to Loupassi and Goldman by letter Monday.
“My goal is to bring to the public a detailed plan for consideration,” Jones wrote. “I assure you that you too will be advised of whatever proposal I bring forward to the public. I look forward to the opportunity to have an informed discussion at that time.”
The mayor has said little publicly about a new stadium beyond offering that he has not made a decision about the Shockoe Bottom proposal.
“Asking citizens for their opinion only after the choice has been made de facto in private risks unnecessary division,” Loupassi and Goldman wrote in Monday’s letter. “We need unity. The public’s right to know and fully participate are long overdue.”
Opponents of a stadium in the Bottom have cited its potential to desecrate a place of great suffering by African slaves, while advocates have said the project could provide ways to better memorialize the history of the slave trade there.
Staff writer Michael Martz
contributed to this report.