Joe Morrissey threatens lawsuit over Shockoe Stadium deal

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A state lawmaker and former Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney has threatened to file a lawsuit to block Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones' plan to build a minor league baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

Del. Joe Morrissey (D - Henrico) announced his intention during a Thursday afternoon Richmond land use subcommittee meeting. He argued that actions taken by the Mayor during the stadium planning process violate the Virginia State Constitution.

“This is not a partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats with whom I have spoken are similarly outraged that secretive no-bid contracts – using city taxpayer’s dollars – may be utilized for portions of the Shockoe Bottom baseball deal," Morrissey said in a statement.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Chris Beschler talked about a new parking and traffic study the city is doing with VDOT. The city is in negotiations with a developer to build a 1,700 space parking deck to meet parking needs if the stadium is built in the bottom.

Parking and traffic improvement costs would total $3.5 million.  That money would be split 50-50 between the city and private developers.

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson said she is concerned the administration’s plan is only designed to accommodate cars, not pedestrians and bikers.

Delegate Morrissey expressed concerns that the administration is using the Richmond Economic Development Authority to circumvent the competitive bid process.

Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall said there will be a competitive bid process for the slavery heritage site and the stadium, which would be built with city money.

Marshall said, however, that a competitive bid process is not required for private development.

The Land Use, Housing, and Transportation Committee voted to move the following ordinance forward to the full City Council without taking action:

“To authorize the Chief Administrative Officer, for and on behalf of the City of Richmond, to enter into the Shockoe Development Cooperation Agreement between the City of Richmond and the Economic Development Authority of the City of Richmond for the purpose of providing for the development of a proposed project in the Shockoe Bottom area of the city.”

Delegate Morrisey delivered an ultimatum.


"If City Council passes an ordinance allowing the iconic slave history site in Shockoe Bottom to be adversely affected by an illegal no-bid process, then the firm of Morrissey & Goldman will sue in Richmond City Circuit Court to protect not only the African-American historic site but additionally, to block this illegal raid on taxpayer’s dollars by City Hall and City Council.”

Morrissey's law office partner is Paul Goldman. Goldman is an outspoken critic of the Shockoe Stadium process. He has written multiple opinion columns which have appeared on

This is a developing story.


  • Bill

    Who cared what Joe Morrissey and Doug Wilder say about this plan. Them being against it makes me all the more supportive of the plan.

    • athynz

      So you are for a plan that the Jones Administration has done it’s best to avoid being out to a public referendum, has come about due to shady backroom deals, and blatant bribery just because Joe Morrissey is saying he’s going to block it and Dough Wilder is not in favor of it? Really? Wow, just wow.

      • Mo Fiscal conservatism

        The better people will win, I’m sure. The people who know better and support the stadium. Conspiracy theories are great for bored college students commenting on news articles. But they won’t make a difference when it’s time for the “big boys” to make a decision.

        I for one can’t wait to walk to a baseball game after work in the new downtown Richmond!! Living in the future, not the past.

        (I’m sure this made many of you cry, so come on with the personal insults. That’s all they have with their conspiracy theories)

      • athynz

        Get off the high horse Kathyrn. We all know that a public referendum or competitive bids will never happen if Jones has anything to say about it because he knows that 1) the majority of the public does not want this park at the expense of education and 2) competitive bids will kill his sweetheart deals.

        IF – and I mean IF – the were competitive bids, if the park was put to a public referendum and the public voted to put it in the Bottom then that’s all well and good.

        You never did answer the question of how it makes more sense to put the park in the Bottom vs keeping it where it is in an area that is undergoing a revitalization now. Why is that?

      • Mo Fiscal conservatism

        I have answered that several times on here, Athynz. I’m not going to keep repeating myself because you didn’t do your homework.
        I think I have a little more personal knowledge about the area where the stadium currently is and the “revitalization” you are speaking of. Trust me, kid. You want it downtown. Just let the grownups do their job.

      • athynz

        No Kathryn you did not answer the question – rather you sidestepped it like Jones sidestepped a public referendum on the park.I very seriously doubt you have a clue as to what is going on the the area on the Boulevard if you keep wrongfully referring to it as a “ghetto” – so drop the snide know it all act as it does not work.

  • Ron Melancon

    Go get them Fighting Joe. At least you don’t get visits when you speak out… Look we all know that some secret deals were made with NUTZY to force and shove the baseball stadium in the bottom. Tell NUTZY that we are into all the Rolex deals and special hidden perks that come along with any Taxpayer funded project….. They always low bid and then SURPRISE you have a cost overrun… Name one project funded by the taxpayer that really came under budget.

  • B Addy

    Bill i agree 100% . This slime ball on one side almost automatically puts me on the other. He does not give a rats behind about the slavery site nor do 99% of blacks. They have used the site to throw away their empty 40oz bottles and to pee and litter for the 50+ years i have lived here. Now when someone wants to do something useful with the area it is now sacred all of a sudden. Where have these whiners been the last 50 years?

    • Shelly

      99% of black people dont pee there or throw beer bottles. Those are homeless people with why lie I need a beer signs (probably your cousins I see on Belvidere and Idlewood) you racist crud!

      • B Addy

        Reading comprehension is your friend. Where does it say 99% of blacks litter and pee there? It doesen’t !! It says 99% of blacks could care less for the last 50+ years which is very accurate.
        It is not racist if it is true. Stop playing the tired card.

    • Joe

      Agreed…I just love how they’re all coming out of the woodwork now…Each of them is a complete scumbag just trying to get in the spotlight.

  • Becky

    Was wondering where the Richmond City Attorney Stood on this Deal.
    Was wondering where the VA CA stood with State Funds obligated
    to the slave history site; and tied and contingent (blackmail) on the “Deal”.
    Was wondering how the Consortiums’ Board Lawyers saw it as legal,
    as tax exempts, to hold hands with elected public officials, in “Donor Deals” for Tax Dollars while quashing Tax Payers Say.
    Tax Exempt are not allowed to engage in “Politics”, according to
    US IRS Code.
    Since elected Public Officials were not standing up for Resident/
    Tax Payers, this one says Thank YOU.

  • Glen Allen

    While I do not agree with those that think the Bottom is the right place to build a baseball stadium, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would support the Mayor’s efforts to design/develop, and build this project without competitive bidding. Other than those who will gain financially thru backroom deals, I cannot understand why everyone would not insist the project be executed as all public projects are supposed to be executed – public bidding. This project does not have to be complete by 2016, that was simply a desire, the Squirrels will wait if they see a project supported by the taxpayers, moving along. If the Squirrels will not wait, it should not be difficult to find another team willing to get a new stadium courtesy of the Richmond City tax payers.

    Personally, I think building this stadium in the Bottom will destroy future efforts to build a successful project that could complement the slave site. If the tax payers are so set on building a private sector baseball stadium, they should do it on the Boulevard where it already thrives.

  • Gary

    This may be the first time I’ve agreed with ‘Fighting Joe’. Any municipal expenditure must be by bid except things like petty cash, etc. What’s going on in Richmond now is the very reason the City Manager form of government was created – to prevent an elected-at-large mayor from running rampant and turning into a typical crooked dictator the way THEY ALWAYS DO.
    Anyone promoting the Shokoe stadium idea is not seeing the big picture. Scott’s Addition is now the biggest craft brewery center in VA and is rocketing into becoming a major ‘destination’ area in RVA. It already has The Diamond, the Redskin’s Camp, the Science Museum and all that acreage around the Diamond for development. Building a new stadium beside the Diamond and having plenty of parking just makes sense when you open your mind to the concept of a totally new entertainment area that is already exploding with new construction. Ride around that area and see what’s going on for yourself.
    As a musician I have played down at the ‘Bottom’, and every time I felt intense relief when I got back to my car after the gig and got on I-95. I don’t believe people are going to flock down there for night baseball games as long as the gang/thug element still exists in the area, and I haven’t heard of any plans to run them out.
    Scott’s Addition would only be boosted by a new stadium on the Boulevard and people WOULD flock there to see night games as they do now. The stadium would simply be a common-sense and timely boost to an area that will be a ‘destination’ with or without it, but it would be so much better with it.

  • Glen

    B Addy, Shelly’s reading comprehension appears to be a lot better than your skill in either composition or spelling. You wrote:
    He does not give a rats behind about the slavery site nor do 99% of blacks. They have used the site to throw away their empty 40oz bottles and to pee and litter for the 50+ years i have lived here.
    In those two sentences, the only “they” are the 99% of blacks unless you also claim that Mr. Morrissey has been peeing and throwing empty 40 oz. bottles there for the 50+ years you have lived there. That would also qualify as “they”, but those are your only two options with the way you have constructed your sentence.
    I would argue that your poor writing skill lends itself to misunderstanding. “Doesen’t” it?

    • manalishi

      Glen, you really need a woman in your life. You have turned into a hen pecking emasculated fruit basket.

    • Shelly

      Thank you Glen, you saved me some time, exactly what I was about to type.

      Manalishi, go back into your hole. If you have nothing to say, its best to say Nothing. Why attack Glen for stating the truth?

      • manalishi

        No Shelly, i have to draw the line at attacks for sentence structure and spelling. Are you “henpecking” too? or just did not understand the post?

      • athynz

        Shelly – I’m curious as to when manalishi referred to a “they” in any of his posts here – I’ve read them all and I’m not seeing it.

      • Shelly

        No, athynz, it was b Addy but when I said something about what b Addy said Manalishi jumped in it so stop instigating. If you read the whole post you know exactly what I’m talking about and what’s going on. Mind you business. If you’re confused, obviously it doesn’t concern you.

      • athynz

        Shelly don’t comment here in a public forum if you want to have a private conversation. You asked manalishi who “they” were when he did not make such a reference… I wanted clarification as manalishi wasn’t even replying to b Addy or you but to Glen Allen. Your post to him was a bit hard to follow given the context of the rest of the posts. As for what is my business and is not my business that IS my business. Deal with it.

      • Joe

        athynz ….. whine and cry why don’t you…… If you can’t take the heat, you know what to do.

      • athynz

        David, David, David – I told you to stop posting as Joe since you are making the real Joe look bad. And no whinging here – just setting things straight – if you don’t like it boy then don’t read my posts. But for some reason you keep right on stalking me – sorry dude I’m not into other dudes. I don’t know how much clearer I can make that for you.

  • athynz

    Good for Joe Morrissey! I’m glad that others can see the blatant corruption and general shadiness of this ball park proposal of Jones and Co. Why is the mayor so against competitive bids and public referendums on this ball park?

  • R Moffett

    Regardless of one’s position on location of a baseball park, I would hope that concerned Richmond taxpayers now see the Mayor’s proposal for what it is.

    In it’s present form it is incomplete, highly speculative, constantly changing, increasingly costly, created to mask the real costs to taxpayers so they cannot be reliably determined, developed in secret, designed to reward wealthy political friends and for-profit enterprises at tax payer expense, crafted in a way that will circumvent citizens’ elected representatives legal requirements, and prudent business practices designed to safeguard tax revenue and historic resources, and it is of doubtful or, at best, very limited fiscal success.

    I am neither anti-baseball nor anti-development. The scheme being promoted by the Mayor, Venture Richmond, SWA, Historic Housing, Highwoods and others is clearly not the prudent, ethical, transparent, legal way to handle Richmond tax revenue. It is rife with corruption, favoritism, secrecy, and misrepresentation.

    Councilman Hilbert is right: start over and create a fiscally responsible plan developed in the daylight and in accordance with legal, ethical, and sound business principles. That is not too much to ask.

    Richmond, given the myriad, long-standing, well-documented deficiencies in the quality of the city’s basic public services and the excessive costs and inefficiencies involved, the city, cannot afford the Mayor’s plan.

    • athynz

      Yes! I’m glad to see others are getting this. I’m opposed to the park in the bottom – I make no claims otherwise – but IF there were competitive bids, no shady backroom deals, no bribery, and a public referendum and the park was still in the bottom after all of that I’d be content that despite my opposition to it the people had a say and that other options were considered.

  • Becky

    Can only imagine all the furor, outrage, ranting, media coverage
    and investigations, with charges, there would be if this was a
    Republican administration.
    If all media outlets were not Serving on the Boards of all
    these Special Interest/Tax Exempt Consortiums as
    Advertising Partners.
    Donors/Contributors/Lobbyists/Friends working “Deals” behind
    closed Government doors for the Public’s Taxes, and Shutting
    out the Public, legislated due proceses, and All Others from
    their Exclusive Deals for their Exclusive Special Interests Only.

      • athynz

        And more David trolling under a different name. At least this one you’ve gotten labeled right – stick with this one as it serves as a warning label for those unfamiliar with your “works”.

  • me

    Why isn’t it a Conflict of Interest to SERVE the Party Donors’ Special
    Interests rather than the Oaths of the Office to elected positions
    that are to Serve the Resident/Tax Payers?
    Can’t Serve two Masters.
    Four (4) Councilpersons SERVE the Consortium’s Boards; Ventures’
    and Sports Backers’.
    Samuels knows all the Legalities, knows full well and flat out exactly
    what they are all doing behind Our Backs. He’s a Lawyer.
    Wants to be Party Judge, raised, through obedient Service to Party.
    You can SEE the Reward System, Jones is Democratic Party Chair.

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