Monday, June 02, 2014

The Bottom Line

The locals who seem vehemently against a baseball stadium referendum don’t really fear it would unleash anarchy. Although Richmond’s last citizen-initiated referendum was in 2003, they squawk with practiced passion that we just can’t have one on every disputed issue. In truth, most of those who oppose giving John Q. Public some say-so about this longstanding dispute know they would lose. So the squawkers turn Chicken Little about an avalanche of anarchy tumbling upon us. 

Whether they support Mayor Dwight Jones' so-called “revitalization” plan, or not, all nine members of City Council have to at least suspect a majority of Richmonders don‘t want Shockoe Stadium. They must know the Flying Squirrels fans, the majority of which are suburbanites, prefer the Boulevard location for a stadium. But the mayor’s squawking team doesn’t care -- some of them even say Richmonders ought not to be bothered to cater to the whims of rubes living in the surrounding counties. That, even if those are the very baseball fans needed to fill the stadium for the games, most of which are played at night. 

Whether it’s put on the ballot by way of a petition drive, or an act of the majority on Council, a referendum on the fate of Shockoe Stadium is the only satisfying way to resolve this dispute that has bedeviled 27 different members of City Council over the last decade.

Rather than leave this third edition of a bad scheme to die by a five-to-four vote, only to rise again next year, members of Council who want to settle this for good, and move on to other business, should support putting a referendum on November’s ballot. The voters are going to remember which of them said -- let the people decide. Likewise, the voters will remember who tried to shove something down their throats.  

With a referendum on the ballot in the fall, both sides -- all sides! -- of this debate would have a chance to present their case. Subsequently, I bet the turnout on Election Day would be huge. And, of course, some political players don't always like big turnouts.

Nonetheless, when the result comes out two- or three-to-one against baseball in the Bottom that will drive the proverbial wooden stake into Shockoe Stadium's heart. If I’m wrong, and the mayor’s side prevails, then I’ll live with that result without squawking.

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