RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--The latest proposal for a Shockoe Bottom ballpark was presented Monday, by Mayor Dwight Jones.
The pitch for a new stadium was made standing where home plate would sit, if his plan becomes reality. The mayor said he hoped the 7,200-seat stadium would be ready for baseball in 2016.
The plan is multi-use and includes a slavery heritage center, a grocery store, parking deck, hotel, and apartments. The plan would be supported by business investment and generate revenue for citizens versus costing them, the mayor said.
The plan wasn’t without opposition. Protesters could be heard throughout the 45-minute presentation. They shouted things like “no stadium on sacred ground.”
At one point, early in the presentation, Mayor Jones addressed the protestors – telling them he’d give them their time if they gave him his time.
“It’s not going to help the masses of people, it’s going to make the millionaires a few more millions,” Protestor Kwame Binta said.
CBS 6 asked the mayor’s office to respond to some of your Facebook questions. The original thread can be read here.
Ward Jones, CBS 6 Facebook friend, commented: Fix the Diamond, or rebuild on the same spot, build a flippin' parking deck so people that come can actually park there, and give the deck access to and from the highway with its own dedicated ramps to handle the traffic. Downtown is not yet vital enough to support this new stadium plan.
Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary responds: “Thousands of people are moving and living downtown! In 2013 alone, we've tracked some $1.15 billion being invested in downtown development and a proliferation of apartments in the urban core are being developed. Downtown is a mecca for creative and unique homes as urban living is on the rise and there is a growing passion for downtown. It's the right place to support the new stadium. We also believe the unique experience of history, culture and entertainment will increase the desire of people throughout the region to explore downtown.”
Courtney Relyea, CBS 6 Facebook friend, asked: Where are they getting money to paint cars and build stadiums? What's wrong with the Diamond? Not like baseball is sold out ever...except the 4th...maybe...what a waste...hire more teachers, cops etc!
Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary responds: This plan will generate new tax revenue to hire more teachers and officers. This development requires little support from City taxpayers. Taxes from the new privately funded development plus taxes at the stadium and the lease with the Squirrels will pay for the new stadium. This economic development plan for Shockoe will generate nearly $200 million in net new tax revenue, and that's money that can be used for public schools, transportation, public safety, etc. The reason the Mayor is advancing this economic development plan is precisely to help expand the city's tax base and to generate growth for the city's greater good.
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David Worthington, CBS 6 Facebook friend, commented: Just rip out the coliseum, put a new stadium there, and sell off Farmers Field. If they want a grocery store in the bottom, put it closer to the bridge instead of up by Clay Street where they still haven't figured out "thou shalt not kill."
Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary, responds: “Poverty is a condition that can generate any number of social ills. In a city facing a 26% poverty rate, it is imperative that we pursue ideas that can expand the city's tax base and generate jobs and opportunity. Revitalize RVA is a tangible plan with real commitments from developers that can transform an entire neighborhood as well as generate resources to appropriately honor the area's rich history.
Joel Koss, CBS 6 Facebook friend, commented: It looks Awesome
Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary, responds: We believe this can be the best ballpark in minor league baseball; a dramatic improvement over the parking lots crumbling there now. This will be a great place to live, work, play and learn.
Chrystal Orr, CBS 6 Facebook friend, commented: No thank you! I like where the current baseball field is located. If they want to do anything, they should fix up the one we already have!
Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary responds: "The Diamond was built a generation ago by the City and the counties together. The counties have said they can't help replace the Diamond right now and we don't want to lose the Squirrels. So the best course for the City is a ballpark in Shockoe and new amenities on the Boulevard.
Real estate experts consider the Boulevard site to be the most desirable economic development site in the region. There has been a long discussion concerning the highest and best use for that parcel of land and local residents and city leaders will have an opportunity to shape the future of the 60-acre site on the Boulevard.
Building the stadium in Shockoe does two things: ignites development in a neighborhood where the flood plain has kept the area untouched for decades and unlocks the potential for rich development on the Boulevard. The City needs the millions of dollars in new tax revenue that can be generated by this economic development plan."