Who’s paying people to drum up support for Shockoe stadium plan?

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- There is no shortage of controversy over the future of baseball in the City of Richmond.

Mayor Dwight Jones has been clear about his plan and wants baseball in Shockoe Bottom. However, Richmond City Council has yet to commit to that idea.

For residents it remains a quandary.

"I think it's going to be boom for the neighborhood,"  Max Daves, a Shockoe Bottom resident in favor of the plan, told CBS 6.

"It's just going to congest the city, people don't want to get into that," Joe Hardy, a Mechanicsville resident, who is in opposition to the plan, said.

Adding to the controversy is concern by city council that mystery groups are circulating petitions saying city council is in favor of the Shockoe Bottom plan.

City Council emphatically denied that in a statement Thursday:

"The Members of Richmond City Council have become aware of individuals being paid to go door to door in Richmond neighborhoods to solicit signatures of support for the Mayor’s proposed Revitalize RVA baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

"Richmond City Council has received reports that there is some confusion and that some residents may have been told that Council requested and/or endorsed the petition drive. Richmond City Council is not behind this petition drive solicitation and will not take a lobbyist role in this matter in any way. Instead, the members of Richmond City Council will continue to review the proposal and continue listening to Richmond residents in their individual districts in considering this important issue."

Tammy Hawley, a spokesman with Mayor Jones, told CBS 6 she had "no information" on the lobbying efforts.

Loving RVA, a group in favor of Shockoe Bottom baseball, sent a statement by Rob Jones that it wasn't their organization late Thursday:

"The Loving RVA effort was launched to educate residents in Richmond on the benefits of the Revitalize RVA Plan, which include new jobs and increased tax revenue for the City.  At no time has anyone involved in this effort  been told to suggest that they are representing members of Richmond City Council or collecting petition signatures on behalf of City Council.  There are a number of individuals and groups in RVA who are very excited about this plan and its many benefits, and we welcome their participation and enthusiasm in talking to their family, friends, neighbors and colleagues about the Revitalize RVA Plan."

The petition controversy is not the only controversy involving the baseball debate.

Critics have argued that an advertisement for Loving RVA should not have appeared in a tax funded publication.

Tammy Hawley defended the decision in a statement to CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

"LovingRVA.com has been promoted as the site to go to for more information about the Mayor's plan since we presented the Mayor's plan back in November. The site is solely dedicated to providing information about the Mayor's plan and as we said from the beginning, we welcome the support in our efforts to educate the public about this plan. We have worked in partnership with Venture Richmond on this matter and their role has consistently been to promote downtown, which they are doing."

Mark Kroenthal, a supporter of the proposal, told the organization that he is apart of has experienced controversy too, with a number of pro-Shockoe Bottom Baseball Signs stolen.

"A few of my neighbors have had support signs stolen," Kroenthal told CBS 6.

No word yet on when City Council will vote on the Jones proposal.

City Council member Kathy Graziano said it could be "months" before a vote is taken and that the reason City Council members have not released their positions publicly is because they want to make sure moving baseball from the Boulevard to Shockoe Bottom makes economic sense.

"One thing I need to be more comfortable with is the financing," Graziano said.


  • Bobby R.

    Golly gee, let ‘s see who could it possibly be that is behind this. . .hmmm, oh, such a ‘Gordian knot’. Could it, in the farthest stretch of your imagination, be Hizzoner Jones or the people who stand to be ‘windfall’ reciepents of large sums of US$$$$. Oh, so difficult to see through the bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors of the issue. You get three guesses and the first two guesses are disqualified. I urge city council to call for a advisory referendum and let the people who will be burdened with paying for this 120m$ boondoggle decide. Best regards.//bobbyr.//

  • Joe

    Why spend all that money building a stadium when they heave cash endlessly towards the RPS which has laughable results of its own.

  • reeltime

    And the lack of transparency continues. I still want to know who is going to float the bonds, the City or RDA.

  • manalishi

    Democrats again. The professional community organizer term is “astro terf”. It’s worked for the democrats for years so why act surprised?

  • Daniel Beasley

    Could it be Mayor Jones has some squirrely friend’s. It needs to be a Mass Referendum Vote of all the cities people.

  • Becky

    All the Special Interest Consortiums are Tax Exempt/Non Profits.
    They are the “New” LOBBYISTS, hidden and protected by the tax status.
    Apparently they are not regulated, constrained, or governed by rules,
    regulations or laws.
    The Boards of these Special Interest Groups are the Richmond’s Who’s Who holding hands with elected Richmond Government Public “Servants” in charge of the Public Coffers..
    They include Donors to Political Campaigns, Big Corporations, Big
    Business, Lawyers, Developers, Real Estate Firms, etc. You see
    their names plastered on Richmond Public Facilities: Altria/Mosque,
    Bon Secours Redskins Fenced “Park”, the 35 Major Corporations
    backing the 2015 Bike Championships, with obligated Taxes, too.
    They Buy In and are PAID OFF. Tax Payers PAY for them to Play,
    With NO SAY.,

  • Becky

    The Mayor IS The President of Venture Richmond.
    Charles Samuels, President of City Council, “serves” on Venture Board.
    Ellen Robertson, VP, City Council “serves” on Venture Board.
    Cynthia Newbille, City Council, “serves” on Sports Backers Board.
    …Can’t “Serve” Two Masters.
    Resident/Tax Payers are NOT Privy to ALL to same info as the
    Consortiums and City Council in this Boondoggle.. WHY?
    It’s OUR Taxes, with REFUSED referendum, voice, will or say.
    Bonds have further been manipulated to take away a Say.
    WHO do they “SERVE”?

    • Manalishi

      Becky is on game tonight. But if i may add,,,,What kind of fool would buy a municipal bond these days? They dont, so be sure to modify your 401k/ira to avoid the terminal trap of others investing you retirement into their fraud.

  • Becky

    Richmond City Government IS Corruption, Collusion, Waste Fraud, and
    Abuse of Power, Office, and Positions and OUR Taxes..

  • Glen Allen

    Given the fact that Charles Samuels and Ellen Robertson are on the Venture Board, it would clearly be a conflict of interest if they voted at all on this proposal. If the tax payers are smart (and I believe they are), they will demand the right for a referendum. If City Council is smart, they will demand the Mayor provide another option as he originally promised.

    • Manalishi

      Great point Glen Allen. But democrats cannot relate to “conflict of interest”. that would be an integrity standard in which they cannot relate.

  • jim

    There has to be some reason that these fools want to destroy a business district to bring in another “Diamond”. Can’t people see how much prosperity the “Diamond” brought to Boulevard and Robin Hood?

  • Bill

    Most of the people that ramble against this plan don’t seem to know if they are walking or riding. I guess people just want something to complain about.

    • jim

      See my comment above. I don’t see where having an sports facility has improved the area around the Diamond, do you see any?

      • jackburton77

        I’m sorry but HUH?

        There’s only so much expansion that can take place under the overpass and an area that eges Northside. Last I checked though that area has a lot of hotspots Bowtie, Redskins camp, Buzz and Neds, High End Apartments, Hardywood etc.

        What I just listed are some of the biggest attractions this city has to offer.

        Moving the stadium downtown will do a lot of the same and attract businesses that would otherwise not come to Richmond City.

        This is a good idea.

        LOL look at this article for c’s sake. A guy that lives in Shockoe is for it and some hayseed in Mech’ville is against it…probably because OBAMA HAS GONE JONES UNDER HIS LEFT WING SPELL!!!!

  • Kathryn Leighton

    I for one am excited. It would be my favorite part of Richmond and most of my friend’s. We already go to pubs in that area after work on weekdays. A baseball stadium in the Bottom would be an amazing addition to Richmond.

    • jackburton77

      Same here.

      Most people don’t realize but Richmond was considered as a landing spot for an ESPN zone and Hard Rock Cafe…much like the one in Baltimore..right near 11th and Byrd/Browns Island.

      The problem? They are accoutrements and we lacked the facilities that would offer the bigger pull.

      This stadium is the catalyst for things like that.

      I look at Baltimore’s ball park. It’s a fun atmosphere..catch a game and hit some bars and restaurants. Jones knows this and is smart to propose such a place.

      Does everyone not realize that you should strike while the iron is hot? We just got the skins training camp…let’s push forward.

      The Squirrels are trying to step their game up…lets help.

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