by Paul Goldman
If Mark Holmberg is right, then Reverend Mayor Dwight Jones is asking for God’s guidance on this question: Should he make the “legacy move”, that once-in-a-term action which will write his name extra large in the annals of Richmond history?
According to tallest WTVR reporter in history, the Mayor is asking his aides for a big AMEN on a plan that would define his term in City Hall: building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.
For purposes of full disclosure, it was my research for Mayor Wilder which killed the last proposal to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. This earned me the top spot on the enemies list for a whole host of powerful forces in the city whose names I suspect are well known.
They got their payback for sure. I knew they would. But their plan didn’t work on any level in my analysis.
Last night, another fascinating Holmberg report said Mayor Jones disagreed with my basic analysis: and is getting ready to support a new Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium.
Mark didn’t reveal any of the details.
But having studied the issue more than anyone in the city who isn’t being paid to say “YES” – but rather to represent the public interest without fear or expected favor – I have no doubts the Mayor’s proposal will be presented as the proverbial “free lunch”, a too-good-to-pass up deal.
And yes: It will seem a sure way for the public to have its cake and eat it too without needing those miracle diet pills being hawked by the firm that paid for the food and drinks at the wedding of the Governor’s daughter.
But forget all the numbers and the other yada, yada, yada, indeed I have always said the way to really make the Shockoe Bottom thing sound too-good-to-pass-up is to tie it to huge promises along the Boulevard.
If you do that, the smoke and mirrors will be so thick with not just a “free lunch” but with “free everything” it will sound as good as it gets.
All of which misses the main reason Mayor Jones may go for it. It isn’t about the money, a “free stadium,” promises to revive this or that part of Richmond, new retail stores, tax revenues, etc., those all are good sounding, maybe even truthful reasons for doing it.
The Bottom Line on the Stadium at the Bottom:
It would be the Legacy Maker, one action which would dramatically alter Richmond in a way that forevermore there would be the Richmond BEFORE THE BASEBALL STADIUM IN THE BOTTOM and there would RICHMOND AFTER THE BASEBALL STADIUM IN THE BOTTOM.
Which is way Mayor Jones is looking at it.
If he is the Mayor that gave us the baseball stadium, he would become the most consequential Mayor in the modern history of Richmond — by far.
You would have Richmond BMJ – Before Mayor Jones – and Richmond AMJ, after Mayor Jones.
The baseball stadium would become the national landmark for describing Richmond around the country. It would be the most recognizable part of the city’s skyline. The dominoes falling from its construction would change the history of Richmond forever forward.
Right now, the Richmond Flying Squirrels are a minor league baseball team from Richmond. But if you build them a baseball stadium in the Bottom, they become the minor league team that is the symbol of Richmond.
Everyone in America, in the world, who comes to Richmond, who drives past Richmond, who is in a train traveling through Richmond, who is a plane flying over Richmond, in a drone hovering over Richmond, on a planet out in the universe looking back at Richmond, or anyone on the Internet looking up Richmond, learning about Richmond, will see the most identifiable landmark in Richmond; the baseball stadium.
And in 20 years, the stadium will be outmoded, in need of being refurbished and made modern: because the last thing the City can now afford is to have an obsolete baseball stadium as its defining edifice.
That’s right: The Baseball Stadium will our Pyramid, our tallest building, our Taj Mahal, our famous bridge, our Ode to the world?
Will they call it Mayor Jones Stadium?
My answer: They will not have to.
Everyone in Richmond, everyone in the surrounding counties, will know, now and forever, that Mayor Jones built the baseball stadium.
Indeed, to put his name on it might actually hurt the legacy. It would seem selfish and personal.
And like I say: It would be redundant really, like calling it the Mayor Jones Mayor Jones Stadium.
Bottom line: For Mayor Jones, or for any Richmond Mayor, being the one who gets the legacy cred for having the juice to build the baseball stadium, to change the history like changing the flow of the James River, is the ultimate legacy maker.
Ain’t no Mayor who can top it. Even if a future Mayor tore it down, what legacy would the future Mayor have? There would be nothing except a whole in the ground. It would take a long time to tear it down, a long time to build it back up.
NO: A Baseball stadium in the Bottom is forever.
The Legacy truth: the legacies that last in politics tend to be the ones people can see, can feel, can touch. That’s why his admirers built Lincoln his monument, Washington his, go down the list. That’s why admirers wanted a monument to Dr. King in Washington. His good work is everywhere. But until he had his monument, he had not made it.
That’s why we have those monuments on Monument Avenue.
The Goldman Sure Bet for today: If Mayor Jones wants a legacy that will dwarf over all the other mayors in city history, then he will use the full weight of his office to build a Baseball Stadium in Shockoe Bottom.
Building a new stadium where the old stadium now sits will not produce any legacy, just a new stadium, maybe some new retail, whatever. No big thing, a former mayor built a stadium there, people build stores everywhere. Ain’t no legacy in that.
But baseball in the Bottom? Even if it turns out to be dud, the stadium will define Richmond for the foreseeable future.
For Mayor Jones and his legacy: It would be Bottoms UP, as high as it can go.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.