RICHMOND, Va. — Todd “Parney” Parnell will celebrate his 34th baseball season in Richmond as the Diamond is receiving some much-needed upgrades.
“Richmond is just on fire right now and we're really, really excited,” said Parnell, the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ Vice President and COO.
Tuesday marks one month until baseball starts in the River City. Construction is underway at the 38-year-old baseball stadium due to regulations set by Major League Baseball.
Richmond Bizsense reported last monththat MLB is requiring the city to put $3.5 million into the stadium before the team can play this season.
Concerns over that renovation sparked rumors that the season was in jeopardy. Parnell said that was never the case.
“It wouldn't be immediate, so therefore the whole season was at risk. That's not true. But there would have been some ramifications for sure if we didn't show MLB here in this place that we were serious about working ahead,” he explained.
The money will get the stadium’s facilities up to date to meet modern needs, especially in the locker rooms.
Parnell said the Squirrels could’ve been subject to fines or discipline if the renovations weren’t made. He feared it would also send a signal to MLB about the future of baseball in Richmond.
The renovations come as the Squirrels will need to be moved to a new stadium in just two years. Parnell told CBS 6’s Brendan King that the city’s tax dollars are being spent wisely.
“Is it worth it for money to be spent on the flying squirrels? Not just for baseball, but for the quality of life in Richmond? Hell, yes, it is! And I'm cursing for a reason because I want to emphasize it,” Parnell stated. “It will be worth it because we will be able to continue to be here doing the things that we do not only during the season, but 365 days a year.”
Ice cream shop Gelati Celesti sits just a six minute walk from the baseball stadium at the intersection of Norfolk Street and Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
"We love having the [Flying] Squirrels as a neighbor. The short term effect is the fans going to and leaving the game stop in here and we see an immediate effect on revenue," said store owner Steve Rosser. "We see 25, 30 percent increase in sales just from the Squirrels’ fan and they come in their gear. It's just a great party."
Rosser and the team organizers often work together for charity and other events that help the community. They're planning on a special fundraiser next month with Parney.
"Richmond has really embraced the Squirrels and it’s only right that everything is falling in place and they can stay for the indefinite future. We are very excited about that," Rosser explained.
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