RICHMOND, Va. – If the $400,000 originally planned to be given by the Jones Administration in another sweetheart retirement deal, now the rage in political circles, proved totally unjustified [the city auditor found out in time to stop it], then what about spending $100-200 million in total financing costs for the Mayor’s Shockoe Bottom Stadium boondoggle?
It would cost maybe 1/500th of that price to get The Diamond to look brand new!
That’s right, the cost of washing away 30 years of life on Planet Earth and making The Diamond shine like new is less than a year’s salary and perks for one of those city officials who seem to get fired for incompetence on a regular basis.
Imagine spending all those millions instead on modernizing the oldest public school facilities in Virginia [Richmond’s average is nearly 60 years of age] or merely making the buildings better for the students and teachers, as opposed to the rats and other rodents now feeling at home in so many of them.
As Delegate Manoli Loupassi (R – Richmond) pointed out, the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium cronies want to waste tens of millions of dollars given to them by a “no bid secretive negotiation process.”
Can The Diamond really be made to look brand new for so little money?
Yes! Tune in this afternoon at 4 p.m. on WRIR 97.3 FM for the first-ever interview with the person with the most knowledge about how to build a baseball stadium in the Richmond.
Mr. Thomas Hanson is the structural engineer picked 30 years ago by city leaders to actually bring the plan to build The Diamond to fruition. He sat down with Chris Dovi and myself to discuss an overlooked option.
“Save The Diamond” is admittedly not quite as catchy a riff as “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” by music group Big and Rich, but as Mr. Hanson pointed out, there are any number of sensible, cost-effective and indeed innovative, futuristic options available to do everything the Jones-Baliles-Samuels-Hilbert No bid crowd claim to want to do in terms of stadiums/development, but for far less of your money.
Even the members of City Council promoting the not-yet revealed proposal by a local Chesterfield group know it is not really free, as suggested, the details of what they want is the equivalent of tens of millions of public dollars in special development perks not yet revealed to the public.
Now comes the Hanson “Save The Diamond” pro-Richmond, cost-effective, futuristic approach. Due to his knowledge of The Diamond’s unique construction and the surrounding area, he has some intriguing ideas including a potentially breakthrough idea to use the iconic structure as an anchor to a magnificent retail and commercial development worth tens of millions of dollars to the city in new revenue.
Hanson is proposing innovative ideas that can modernize The Diamond at far less cost and still keep an iconic structure some consider a potential national landmark.
Unlike others cheerleading for the Mayor’s Shockoe Bottom boondoggle who have never built anything bigger than a Lego, I don’t claim to be an expert in baseball stadium construction or development.
What I do have however is this, as good a record of anyone in statewide politics advocating the people’s interest against the status quo regardless of party or ideology.
Mr. Hanson has rightly said the Jones-Baliles-Hilbert-Samuels affinity for these back room “No bid secretive negation process” may prove wasteful and ill-advised.
His team won the bid on a level playing field 30 years ago and created an iconic structure built on time and under budget.
Why is the Mayor and City Council so afraid of a level playing field whether at the Bottom or on the Boulevard?
“Save The Diamond” may actually save Richmond’s reputation.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.