Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remembering last summer's hot air about baseball

Going into the July 4th weekend baseball is on my mind. My favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, is in first place in the National League East. And, they are on television tonight, only because they’re playing the Washington Nats. Braves fans know nearly all of Atlanta’s games used to be available locally. Now they are hardly ever on.

So, it’s a nice treat. And, the Braves are better this year than they have been over the last three or four years. That this is longtime manager Bobby Cox’s last season in the dugout, with the team playing like a contender, puts icing on the treat.

Maybe I’ll take in a Flying Squirrels game in the next few days. Which brings me to the reason for this post -- have you noticed what a difference one year can make?

Last season there was no professional baseball at the Diamond. When the season started, instead of an umpire calling out, “Play ball!” we heard the din of the squabble over where to build a new stadium.

On April 22, 2009 a presentation was made at Albert H. Hill (middle school), by Paul Kreckman of Highwoods Properties and Bryan Bostic of Richmond Baseball Club. It was part of a series of such appearances in public auditoriums. The two explained to an audience of about 70 people why a new baseball stadium ought to be built in Shockoe Bottom. Nearly everyone in the audience who spoke during the questioning period seemed unconvinced it was a good idea.

Until that presentation most of the people I had talked with seemed against the concept of building a stadium in The Bottom. But then they said they expected it to happen. That perception was in the air, for a while. Then, as the weather warmed up and more public opinion seeped into the process, the perception began to melt away.

On May 12th, at the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Public Square Forum, the presentation by Kreckman and Bostic went over like a lead balloon. An audience of some 200 saw in that room what became more and more obvious in the days to come -- public sentiment was overwhelmingly against the taxpayer-backed three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar development being touted by Highwoods and RBC.

Before the month of June had passed the whole deal just evaporated.

The irony was that the pitchmen, Kreckman and Bostic, were so bad at selling their plans. Of course, I thought the plan itself was bad. But those salesmen were amazingly inadequate at selling.

To wallow more in this flashback, below is a list of links to stories I wrote about this business last year. In some cases the comments under the posts are somewhat funny and rather revealing.

Note: My strategy then was to draw the online boosters of the project (many of whom had cloaked identities) out and make them talk. My thinking was that the more the public saw of the people behind the push, the less they would like and trust them and the pushy developers, themselves. I believe it worked.
Now the Richmond Flying Squirrels are drawing good attendance numbers at the Diamond and Richmond avoided what had the look and smell of a boondoggle.


Anonymous said...

LOL. Man, you love yourself a bit too much. You and Diradour are going to break an arm patting yourself on the back.

Public opinion didn't kill the Highwoods Proposal. The economy and high speed rail did.

F.T. Rea said...


This flashback wouldn't be complete without you. Thank you for your participation.