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."