RICHMOND, Va. -- As the Richmond Flying Squirrels hold their 2022 home opener at The Diamond Tuesday, the city is in the midst of fielding proposals that could lead to the replacement of the nearly 40-year-old stadium.
Dubbed "The Diamond District", it is over 67.5-acres of predominantly city-owned land that the city is seeking to redevelop and anchored by a new baseball stadium.
"We want a new ballpark, mixed-income development, mixed-use green space, interconnected to nearby neighborhoods -- creating a whole new neighborhood for our city," said Maritza Pechin, Deputy Director for the city's Office of Equitable Development. "The city is looking to implement the vision of the Greater Scott's Addition Small Area Plan which is included in Richmond 300, the city's master plan."
After announcing an initial Request for Interest (RFI) in December 2021, 15 developers submitted responses.
A panel of ten members including members of the Richmond City Council, city administration, and VCU administration pared those down to six development teams that have submit responses to a Request for Additional Information (RFAI).
"It's our chance to create a new vibrant neighborhood," said 2nd District Councilmember and panel member Katherine Jordan. "One of the things that I'm most excited about this project is the fact that we are keeping baseball on Arthur Ashe Boulevard and that's something the city heard for decades. This is where we want baseball. And I'm so excited to see this project moving forward finally. We can't afford to lose the Squirrels. They're too much part of our community, baseball is too much part of our history."
Jordan said once the RFAIs have been submitted, the city plans to hold public hearings in May and whittle the list down to finalists.
"We want to give ourselves the flexibility to be as competitive as possible during this process. So what we'll see what comes back and make the best decision based on that," said Jordan. "I think what we want is someone who gets Richmond, who's going to elevate this area because we'd be able to create a project that really seamlessly connects to the other surrounding neighborhoods and someone who has the financial capacity to see it through."
"I think that's just a generational, historic opportunity to find the highest and best use for one of the most significant contiguous pieces of property, I think, in the city," said Trevor Dickerson, past president of the Greater Scott's Addition Association. "We're all excited to engage with the city on the process and we hope it's a transparent and equitable process. And that everybody has a seat at the table."