Thursday, June 18, 2009

From Inevitability to Illusion

The air of inevitability for baseball in Shockoe Bottom is gone. The last five weeks have not been good to the forces advocating the building of a new baseball down there. At there's a new commentary piece of mine up about how the where-to-play-baseball story has changed since the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Public Square forum last month:
In addition to being way outnumbered, as far as the attendance went, another part of what underlined the weakness of Highwoods/RBC position was how fairly the forum was conducted. Silvestri’s calm evenhandedness offered a sharp contrast to those individuals who said things that were off-the-wall, or perhaps less than forthright.

After all the hyperventilating in comments under baseball stories, the thinking that Richmond was evenly divided on whether to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom was revealed to be an illusion -- poof!
Click here to read "The Tipping Point for Shockoe Bottom Baseball."


Anonymous said...

Don't mistake silence for inactivity. It's not as dead as you seem to think.

paul_h said...

Richmond strikes out once again.

"In the blogosphere it has been the same; if anything, the tone has been worse. That many of such comments were crafted under the cloak of anonymity hasn’t done much for the civility of the discussions."

Readers of your column know what you mean. Have you commented on the vitriol and misinformation coming from the opposition. Let me introduce you to Shockoe Bottom Dweller and Joe Richmond.

Baseball on the Boulevard will be exactly what it has always been, a ballpark in an asphalt paradise where our neighbors won't have to be inconvenienced by the noise and lights of the city. Things will go on as they have been and that is a very "Richmond" thing to do.

Scott said...

I am against the Shockoe Bottom proposal and for keeping baseball on Boulevard. I have been that way from the start for environmental reasons and concerns about taxpayer money going to another downtown white elephant (instead of needed neighborhood school and street repairs).

But I think paul_h does have a point- "Baseball on the Boulevard will be exactly what it has always been" - that serves as a challenge to make sure it is not just the same. Future Boulevard baseball should be a helluva lot better than it was.

Richmond should have a good, working stadium that can accomodate many different activities and be well maintained. It should have solar panels and green features. It should attract other smart development to the Boulevard and work well with mass transit options. This is our chance to move Richmond forward.

F.T. Rea said...


Silence is golden ... or so they say.

Paul H,

My intention was to not separate one side from the other with that quote you cite. Of course, you may read into it whatever you like.

You prediction for the Boulevard seems rather bitter. Scott's Addition and the rest of that area are developing slowly on their own. Eventually, The City will sell off/develop the land it owns to the south of the Diamond. That should be an improvement.

But predictions are a dime a dozen. I remember hearing how the floodwall and Canal Walk were going to transform Shockoe Bottom into a thriving community. Seems like we've be throwing money at that transformation for a good while.

Baseball on the Boulevard may not be sexy, but it is sensible for a number of sound reasons. And, it will be what we make of it.


Don't know what the new plan for the Diamond looks like. I hope it does include green features.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you would say baseball on the Boulevard is gaining any momentum. There is no indication that the City is willing to even consider a long term return to the Boulevard, which would go against the 2008 Davenport study. Nor is there any indication that any affiliated franchise would be interested in playing again at that location, with or without a "new" ballpark.

F.T. Rea said...


I think I covered the momentum aspect of this in the article.

Plus, there's this: Any team, "affiliated" with a major league franchise, or not, will have to play at the Diamond for at least two, probably three years. It will have to be fixed up, somewhat, for that to be possible.

Facing that reality, it makes little sense to spend millions on refurbishing the Diamond for that short of a stint.

So, given what's happened, what's most likely to happen is that the Diamond will get a makeover.

Perhaps the talk of a downtown stadium, somewhere, but probably not Shockoe Bottom, will continue. Actually, I find the possibility of a stadium right on the river in Dogtown rather interesting.

But my guess is professional baseball will be played at the Diamond for the next ten years. Or, it will not be played in Richmond at all.

Stuart said...

Anonymous, Paul_h, FanGuy, et al, the huge straw man you guys keep building is that the baseball league/franchises have a problem with the Boulevard location.

In reality, not one person in the Braves franchise or the International League ever said that location was a problem. They griped for years about the Diamond facility, and when a plan to renovate it was offered, Bryan Bostic and company sabotaged it to try to muscle in the goofy Shockoe Bottom plan.

The Blvd location is GREAT in terms of highway access, which is priority no. 1 in car-centric Richmond. Rebuild a nice facility and baseball will work just fine on the Boulevard.

Anonymous said...

Stuart, as for other affiliate clubs not liking the Boulevard, let's just say I hear things. That's why ODP has suggested an independent team - it knows that is the only chance.

But, have you heard a peep from the Mayor about the ODP proposal? Nope. There's a reason for that.

F.T. Rea said...


It sure is easy for a person with no name to say they "hear things." Maybe you do hear things. Who doesn't? But people who hear things that really aren't there are either crazy, or they're running a scam.

I don't doubt there will be a desperate attempt to rescue the Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium concept. There's a lot of money on the line. But the perceived momentum is now running hard against it.

It will take an incredible Hail Mary to save it now. And, it better happen fast.

Anonymous said...

That's your perception FT. But, with all due respect, it's an uninformed one. Perceived momentum is pretty meaningless when that perception is based on the information you get from the RTD and Style, and when you equate a turnout at an RTD forum of folks opposed to the project as somehow being indicative of the mood of a majority of the citizens. The opposition to a project is always louder and more motivated than the supporters. You'd be foolish to read too much into it. I know you are hoping the project is dead, but that doesn't make it so.

paul_h said...

FT, I have read your blog. I know the criticism you have directed at SB supporters. It has been frequent and hostile, which is your right.

Bitter? Why? If baseball ends up on the Boulevard, then I will go. I think is a mistake of historic proportions, but we do that all the time in Richmond.

Stuart, don't mix me up with FanGuy. We are different people with different opinions. If you can't tell that by now, then you haven't been reading.

The highway centric point is what is wrong with the Diamond and bogus. Downtown handles 80,000 people a day, coming and going all at once. They also manage to find parking spaces. A SB stadium would not hold more than 8,000, which would be nothing compared to rush hour and also take place when on nights and weekends when traffic is low.

The key to a SB location is that it will feed into dozens of nearby venues, like the Poe Museum, 17th St. Market, restaurants, coffee shops and the JRPS. It would also put SB on the map for many people who have never been there.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

The ballpark issue won't be the focus of many of my posts for a while. Perhaps that comes as good news to you and all the anonymous FanBoys.

Beyond trying to solve the riddle of how to make a living, much of my battling energies will be aimed at trying to rid this city of its admissions tax.

I've recently had some conversations that have given me hope that it may be possible now. Hey, I've been ranting against that bad tax for a long time. Much longer than worrying about baseball stadiums.

If we are successful this will have a dramatic effect on both the quality and quantity of entertainment available in Richmond.

You want Downtown Richmond to thrive? This change would do it better than a baseball stadium ever could.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I really do think the Shockoe Bottom stadium thing is done. You can stick a fork in it.

So, it's on to bigger fish to fry.

paul_h said...

I look forward to a change in subject. You can only obsess on something so long.

There's no reason to throw me in with FanGuy or any other anonymous blogger. I'm on the record about a lot of things. You know how to reach me and who I am, as least by reputation.

We both want the same things. It's shame we can't have a decent conversation about it.