MLB wants what it wants.
Richmond, Virginia officials are looking for some developers and money to build a minor league baseball stadium with a village surrounding the facility. Richmond officials have been told by the local Double A team president and managing general partner Lou DiBella that without a new stadium opening by 2025 the Richmond Flying Squirrels franchise will be flying off to another city that is willing to spend millions of dollars for a stadium. Richmond officials would like to build a park to accommodate Flying Squirrels’ baseball games along with Virginia Commonwealth University baseball games. Richmond officials will ask private developers for conceptual plans to transform a Richmond parcel of land into an “entertainment destination” complete with a new stadium that also features housing, offices and retail shopping.
The Richmond ballpark will be 37 years old when the 2022 season opens and the facility, according to Major League Baseball, is at the end of its usefulness. The ballpark hosted the Triple A Richmond Braves from 1985 through the 2008 season but the parent Atlanta Braves organization moved the team to Gwinnett, Georgia. MLB has demanded cities to upgrade minor league parks and this is nothing new as in 1990 the MLB-Minor League agreement made the same demands which ultimately cost some cities teams after those cities said no to MLB. Earlier this year, the Warren County, Kentucky, Downtown Economic Development Authority committed about $3 million to upgrade the Bowling Green ballpark to keep the Hot Rods in town. In Peoria, Illinois team officials say it will take a minimum of $2.2 million and upwards of $6.5 million to get the local stadium up to MLB standards. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has a stadium problem. Two ballparks in Pennsylvania, one in Altoona and the other in Reading need upgrades because MLB says so.
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