Thursday, February 19, 2009

Swiftboating in Shockoe Bottom

Penned by STYLE Weekly’s Scott Bass, “The Umpire’s New Clothes” offers the reader a look at some of the complicated inner workings of the much-ballyhooed/much-maligned development deal that would put a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

Bass' piece also shines a light on the men pushing the deal, who seem to believe with religious zeal they can see through the looming fog of economic uncertainty onto the future. While they also seem bulldog determined, they have a tough job on their hands — selling a charming build-it-and-they-will-come dream in a time of brutal hard-edge realities.

Most obvious among them is Bryan Bostic, the front man for the group trying a buy a minor league baseball franchise to relocate to Richmond.

“If you extract the ballpark out of the Boulevard, it comes to life,” Bostic tells the crowd, largely made up of North Side residents who support keeping baseball where it is. Just look at what happened at other forward-thinking cities such as Memphis, Bostic says. “Two billion, two billion, billion, two billion, two billion in private investment,” he says, fumbling with the mic.

The idea has been around for a while, and it’s nearly identical to the first plan floated four years ago by another group of developers, which also included Bostic. They proposed building a new ballpark for the Richmond Braves in a $330 million retail, office and condo development in Shockoe Bottom.

Click here to read Bass’ excellent analysis.

For my money, it's nice to read what real people with real names have to say about the baseball stadium issue. I want to understand what Bostic and his group are proposing. If Bostic is a lover of America's Pastime, we have that in common.

As I've followed this controversial story online, it's become increasingly annoying to notice how much disinformation has been injected into the fray.

Much of it has come from anonymous sources supporting baseball in The Bottom. Anonymous and filled with righteous indignation sources, if they are questioned about whether they have any connection to the developers. But, denials and righteous indignation notwithstanding, they stay cloaked, not unlike their anonymous counterparts, pretending to be teenagers or rocket scientists in online chit-chat rooms.

Why someone with no dog in the fight would jump into nearly every comments section of nearly every post on the topic of where to play baseball, week after week, to repeat invented facts and outrageously misleading assertions, is almost a mystery to me.

Yes, I can only guess at what hidden agendas, nefarious or otherwise, might provoke such behavior. However, at this point, it's hard not to connect such relentless propaganda -- regardless of how it got started -- to the cause it supports.

So, whether the Bostic team has had anything to do with these anonymous enemies of fair and open debate, or not, I've seen no effort from that team to push away from the shenanigans of what has had much of the appearance of a coordinated campaign.

It's been a mean-spirited campaign to put down anyone who questions the soundness of building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The Fan District and the area near The Diamond have been cast as dangerously crime-ridden, while The Bottom was painted as safe as milk. Writers who have been covering news in Richmond for years have been labeled as "biased," because they haven't jumped on the bandwagon to put taxpayers in the position of having to back a scheme that has a considerable downside to it, if the boosters for it are wrong.

It's been a campaign that has brought to mind the poisonous swiftboating style of political propaganda -- say it often enough and some people will believe it.

Thanks, Scott, for telling it like you see it. And, for signing your name to what you tell.


Update: Click here to read John O'Connor's report in Thursday's RT-D, "Minor league baseball wants progress on stadium plan."


Anonymous said...

Dude, you have a warped sense of reality, not to mention a lot of nerve accusing others of "repeating invented facts and outrageously misleading assertions..."

Signed, Anonymous (get used to it)

Anonymous said...

"Slantblog" is certainly an appropriate name for your blog.

Jason Roop said...

Thanks for your nice comments on the story.

After I asked "Fanguy" to confirm whether he was one of the developers or connected with Highwoods in any way, he said no, then posted a note saying he was taking a break from blogging about the baseball issue.

Jason Kenney said...

Terry, BRILLIANT analysis and statement on this whole situation. Well done!

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous (3:35),

In looking around the blogosphere it seems others are catching on to the scam -- one person inserting a bunch of double-talk and guff into the discussions at blogs that post on the baseball issue, pretending to be several people.


Anonymous (3:36),

See comment above.

Jason Roop,

FanGuy has earned the credibility he deserves. Taking a break to think up a new identity is probably a good idea.

Jason Kenney,

Thanks. It seems the anonymous mischief-maker in the blogosphere issue is a zombie that won't die.

Anonymous said...

This blog post, and the following comments, are so thick with irony that it's off the unintentional comedy meter!

FanGuy said...

Since you insist on bashing me while I'm on my "baseball vacation".......

F.T. Rea said...


Welcome back from your sabbatical, just in time for you to hoist yourself on your own, ahem, pedestal.

Paul H said...

Yes Terry, (I can call you that because I'm slightly drunk.) we are all on the developer's payroll.

Gotta go now, I get paid by the post and how many neighborhood meetings I attend.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

You can call me whatever you like, since it's your keyboard. What I think of what you write is my business ... unless I want to share my thoughts.

In this case, a few PBRs into the night, I don't.

Peter said...

You're a troll. I've never applied that term to a blogger before, because usually trolls lurk in forums and comment pages, but your accusations are so wildly paranoid, your standards of legitimacy so arbitrary, and your arguments so superficial--when there are arguments, since mostly you seem content to just set up the developer straw man--there really is no other word for it.

Because it couldn't possibly be that there are people in this city who are actually excited about the idea of building a stadium (with accompanying development) in the Bottom, right? People who are not connected with developers, even? No, that couldn't be. Someone disagrees with you, so they must be suspect. They must be suspect!

I mean, "relentless propaganda?" "Nefarious agendas?" Are you this hysterical in real life, too? Is your whole existence as cartoonish as your online persona? Do you shriek at your imaginary enemies when the milk runs low, or the price of tomatoes goes up twenty cents? Do you shake your fist and curse those Wicked Developers when the cable goes out, and you can't watch Kath & Kim? God, I hope so. Because I don't want to think that this is just an act that you're putting on in order to bully people into not expressing themselves about a very important development project in their own city.

F.T. Rea said...

Peter (if that's really your name),

Since your silly comments came at 1:53 a.m., I'm guessing the late hour had you thinking you were being funny. But in the light of day, how does it look now?

How exactly would one bully anonymous, even fictitious characters? And, speaking of lurkers, since your blogger profile is blocked, who are you, Pete?

I don't know who Kath and Kim are, either.

Peter said...

"how does it look now?"

Pretty good, thanks.

You bully anonymous "characters" by running a belligerent, over-the-top campaign against the legitimacy of criticism based upon whether it meets your completely arbitrary standards of "non-anonymity." When you issue a blanket dismissal of the content of anonymous or semi-anonymous comments, aside from the fact that it looks smug and lazy, it tends to narrow the discussion quite a bit. By comparison, the Washington Post doesn't have any problems with anonymous comments, and better writers than you frequently go on and respond with utter sincerity to anonymous comments and questions, and no one gripes about "lurkers" and "nefarious agendas." That's why your beating of this particular dead horse looks not only ridiculous, in this day and age, it looks like you might have a "nefarious agenda" yourself.

And I'm not a blogger, and I haven't created a "blogger profile," so that would probably explain why my "blogger profile" is "blocked." Google owns Blogger, and I'm posting through my GMail account. Now that you know that, you will, I'm sure, completely ignore my comments, or you'll respond with some priggish dismissal of my entire post, based upon the fact that I don't have a stuffy-looking JPEG attached to my non-existent "blogger profile." That of course will allow you to get right back to setting up that developer straw man I mentioned in my last post.

F.T. Rea said...


You aren't fooling anybody. No one is feeling sorry for an anonymous noise, demanding to be treated with respect.