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HOLMBERG: Can we be a city with a winning attitude?

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RICHMOND, Va. — The main reason I was hoping the stolen race bike would be found and returned is it fed into the negativity – right at the start of race week – so many seem to enjoy wallowing in and sharing about this international event. From the moment we were selected as the race site, the drumbeat from the downers commenced.

We don’t want this event!

We got it because no one else wants it!

Who cares about bike racing!

We’ll lose money!

And my favorite: We’ll screw it up! Richmond always screws it up!

It’s the same nattering we heard the minute we started talking about the Redskins park, or the performing arts center, or riverfront development. Just about anything except quirky murals. Every setback or embarrassment (like the stolen bike) is cheered.

So many seem to be rubbing their hands together about the smaller than hoped-for (or predicted) crowds early for the UCI race, or Redskins practice this summer.

Na-na-naa… told you it’d be a flop! I knew we’d lose money!

Look, I get that we should be vigilant and spend our tax dollars wisely. We should keep all deals open to scrutiny and criticism.

But cool cities do cool things.

Pro teams, special events and world class entertainment facilities often lose money for municipalities. Look at the money Nashville spent on its performing arts center, or the cost of ballparks in any number of towns.

It may be a negative in the ledger book, but it adds up big time in terms of civic pride and a sense of energy that makes a city shine.

So many in RVA seem proud of being The Town That Can’t Shoot Straight instead of joining in and making it work. The Folk Festival is one example of how things can really be successful if we just believe and participate. Come to the race! Celebrate RVA!

And those of you who prefer to celebrate all-things-wrong with Richmond, why stay?

Mark Holmberg writes commentaries for WTVR.com. Leave your comments below or on Mark’s Facebook page.


  • Wrenn M

    You can talk about civic pride all you want, but you should probably wander through the Fan and ask local businesses how much money they’ve already lost. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot.

  • Sandra

    Leave you say? Ok. I think I will. I’m tired of getting my home and cars getting broken into. I’m tired of having Police that don’t care that your stuff is stolen. I had one officer tell me after I chased a thief off that had broken our car window that “maybe we should leave our cars unlocked so they wouldn’t be broken into”. Right….. And I’m tired of the “bandaid” fix that Richmond comes up with. Like Northside, why put up fancy expensive street lights when they need to get hookers and drug dealers off the streets if they want to make it a nicer neighborhood. After all the lights will be broken out in a week or two anyway! Well, I for one have had enough. After having so many things stolen I’m moving out of Richmond, out of Virginia and as far away from the Commonwealth as possible! The only thing I will miss is the green beauty of Virginia! But I won’t miss Richmond.

    • Shaun

      People often don’t realize what they have until its gone. RVA is a beautiful city, with beautiful people. No I’m not a Richmonder, however I have been in this city now for about 15 years and I call this place home. There is so much culture and a beautiful place to raise a family. Conveniently located so you can visit so much history from DC, Williamsburg, NY, Carolina’s, to ATL. Either a flight or car ride and I’m there in less than 6 hours either way, North or South. Crime and poverty is everywhere. I just think that once you’re living outside of the RVA, you will realize the quality of life you get here compares to no other. It’s always nice to go visit other cities, states, etc., but there’s no place like home!! RVA!! I love my city!!!

  • Honest Jeffrey

    Mark – it’s difficult to get excited about something that isn’t enjoyable and restricts my daily movement. Bike races are no fun to watch – there’s nothing TO watch!! But streets all over are completely blocked off, in many cases sidewalks are. And these stupid fences all over the place. None of that is enjoyable. No wonder people are grouchy about it. Honestly this thing was rammed down our throats. A BIKE RACE of all things……

  • Kellie Schorr

    You’re backwards. Civic Pride is like personal pride – it doesn’t come from outside events to the city – it comes from INSIDE the city and then creates events. The Bike Race didn’t have any buy-in for the population. Richmond isn’t a city where bicycling is a popular sport or a big deal. Instead of excitement, people feel inconvenienced. Community leadership means promoting events the COMMUNITY finds representative and not price gouging the community out of it.

  • Judith Boothe

    I was downtown today and I was in awe of the sheer massiveness of it all! So very many people with so very much invested in this event! I do wish I could ride a bike like that! This is my third day volunteering, and I wish I could be there everyday!
    My hat is off to all of you good people!

    Richmond is delighted to have you!

  • Scathach

    I don’t see what there is to celebrate about Richmond. The only exceptional thing about RVA is that somehow, this city never fails to disappoint. At least I’m almost done here. I anxiously await the plane that will carry me far away, and I hope I never come back to this town again.

  • Deirdre Hughes

    I hate to disagree with an article I essentially agree with, but publicly funded stadiums have been repeatedly shown to be bad public business. Not just a “sort of” waste of tax dollars, but an epic waste of tax dollars. No matter the team, no matter the city. Citizens lose and some millionaire wins. If your privately owned team requires a stadium, then your private dollars should fund it.

  • Jim

    I agree with Mike, but it starts at the top, with City leadership. Here we are, four years into a second minor league baseball team and there is no stadium deal in sight. No government cooperation. Everyone wants the deal to be perfect for them, hence no deal gets done.

  • Rva 4 Life

    I agree with the comment about “not knowing what you have until it’s gone”. RVA is an amazing city with tons of things to do. We are making a name for ourselves as a foodie capital. Let’s not forget our art scene, breweries, and what the James River offers. Sure, we have our issues with crime, but so does everyone else. I do think we need to do more about improving our communities that receive less attention, though. This city finally decided to spruce up the area because for the UCI race. Why not before? I think that does reveal a problem. People don’t care unless there’s money to be made. Too bad we are losing money with UCI. Both the Governor and RPC’s superintendent emailed state workers to encourage patronizing. Have you noticed thin crowds? Civic pride is important, but not at the expense of losing money. Especially when the event is not really well supported. We recently started adding bike lanes. We should have waited to build our cycling community before hosting UCI. A majority had never heard of it, so you can’t expect a big turn out. It would be like RVA hosting the next Squash championship. Maybe the UCI race was not the best choice for RVA. Hmmm…wonder if Pope Francis is free.

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