Council committee recommends killing ballpark referendum

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jul 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 19:32:25-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Richmond residents can vote for politicians but turns out city council doesn't want them to vote for baseball stadiums.

"Should the new ball park stadium be located at the current location, which is 3001 North Boulevard?" That was the question Richmond City Council President Charles Samuels wanted voters to answer in the November election.

That however is not likely to happen after a City Council panel killed the measure Monday night.

"Sometimes it comes together and last night it didn't," Samuels told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

"Some folks believed that we were elected to govern, which we were, and that we don't need referendums to do that, that is putting our job back on the people," Samuels said.

So what do the Flying Squirrel's management team think of this decision?

Vice President Todd Parnell said while the organization is involved in the ongoing discussions about any future stadiums, he emphasized their priority is the fan experience and selling seats.

"Yes we want a new ballpark," Parnell said " But as of right now our focus is July 4th, and selling out July 4th," Parnell said.

But CBS 6 did learn that the Squirrels lease agreement at the Diamond is set to expire in 2014.

Parnell said that while the Squirrels are very happy to be in Richmond signing deals on a year to year basis, a multi-year, long term commitment with the city will most likely require the discussion of a new baseball stadium.

"It's something that needs to be talked about, it needs to be discussed," Parnell said in referencing lease talks.

City Council member Kathy Graziano telling CBS 6 that a plan needs to be announced by the Mayor sooner rather than later.

It has been long rumored Mayor Dwight Jones is considering a proposal to move the Squirrels to Shockoe Bottom.

However, when CBS 6 requested specifics by the mayor's office on what Jones envisions and where he envisions it, the response was general.

"The Administration's recommendation on a location for baseball will be made based on the best information and data for the city's growth and prosperity," Tammy Hawley, the Mayor's spokeswoman, said.

At this stage, only the council panel has recommended killing the referendum. A formal vote is expected at the next council meeting on July 8, when there will also be opportunity for community input.