Mayor Levar Stoney said the Richmond Flying Squirrels are here to stay.
Last week, the president and managing general partner of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Lou DiBella, issued a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch expressing concern regarding city’s stadium situation and the potential loss of the team if the city does not follow through with its planned development.
Currently, the city is operating on a two-year deadline to complete a new $80 million stadium meeting Major League Baseball standards before a 2025 deadline. The new facility would replace The Diamond, which has been home to the Flying Squirrels since their debut season in Richmond in 2010.
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DiBella said there has been little progress on plans for the new stadium. With the clock ticking, Richmond is at risk of losing its baseball franchise.
In a meeting with The Times-Dispatch editorial board Tuesday afternoon, Stoney said the city plans to deliver on its promise of a new facility before the deadline.
“We don’t foresee the Squirrels leaving,” Stoney said. “We plan on delivering a state-of-the-art baseball facility for the residents in the city, for the residents of the metro area, and for the franchise.”
While Stoney and his team would not provide more details on the process, Stoney said the city is in its final stages of negotiations to obtain a development agreement, and announcements will be made soon as to the status of the project.
In other sports-related news, following the recent sale agreement of the Washington Commanders NFL team, there are questions about what will happen with the Bon Secours Washington Commanders Training Center on West Leigh Street complex.
While the team chose not to train in Richmond last summer, a person familiar with the team’s decision-making said training locations would be picked on a “year-to-year” basis.
With a change in leadership from the hands of Dan Snyder to new owner Josh Harris, it is unclear what will happen to the facility.
However, Stoney said he is hopeful the city will be able to use the space in the future.
“(I hope) that the city can utilize it in some sort of positive way moving forward that brings in people from all over Richmond,” Stoney said. “I think we would endeavor to make it a 12-month-a-year sort of facility that we can use versus a few months or a few weeks.”
Richmond became the training camp host in 2013 under an eight-year contract. The contract called for the Richmond Economic Development Authority to pay $500,000 in cash and in-kind services for the team’s appearance each summer.
Stoney ran a campaign denouncing the payments, citing that the city should not be paying the team for its visits. In 2021, the team began paying the city $100,000 to rent the facility.
Em Holter (804) 649-6178
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