Some are surely scoffing at the depiction of the cityscape, making it seem like the baseball stadium they play in lies in the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers.
“The Diamond” does offer views of downtown, but is, in fact, two miles away. This suburban location, which comes with a large parking lot, is certainly convenient for car goers on the capital city’s north side. Anyone, however, who has been to a game there on knows the only drinking, eating and shopping is done inside the stadium.
Built in 1985, The Diamond is a serviceable relic from the days of a stadium-building era that cherished concrete and symmetry. Reflective of the capital city’s love of baseball, attendance has not lagged since the Braves left and the Giants arrived. In fact, the Flying Squirrels drew a league high total last year.
In baseball, however, diamonds aren’t forever. The Mayor of Richmond, the business community and some fans want a new ballpark. The plan is to build a 10,000-seat stadium in the Shockhoe Bottom neighborhood. Steps from the train station, the development would include the ballpark and mixed-use redevelopment.
Controversy has swirled around the proposed near downtown location. The Shockoe Bottom neighborhood is an historical site where slave-trading took place. Building on such sacred ground stirs up high passions. And then there’s the cost. One need only google “publicly funded stadiums” to see how fans have been fleeced in these matters.
Proponents of the downtown plan emphasize the cost would be shared. Part of the plan would include a heritage site for the slave-trading history, a grocery store, a hotel, 750 apartments, parking decks, and flood mitigation.
The Diamond would be demolished, and the area re-developed with mixed-use. The new ballpark could be ready for an Opening Day pitch in April 2016. As far as the Giants future in Richmond, who knows? Some have speculated the Nationals would move their AAA affiliation there. They are currently in Syracuse.
Fans of the Flying Squirrels could be in for a real treat this season. A bonanza of arms has arrived from San Jose, the “High A” affiliate who went 83-57 last year. All five starters ranked in the Top 20 in pitching. Overall, the Giants minor league teams had the best winning percentage (574).
Adalberto Mejia, a southpaw, is highly touted, as well as Clayton Blackburn, a right-handed Texan. Ty Blach (RHP) shined in San Jose (130 IP, 1.090). Blach was named to the 2013 Organizational All-Star team in 2013.
The talk of San Francisco’s system is Kyle Crick. In 2013, the 21-year old fireballer from Texas blew away 95 California League batters in 68 IP.
“Cove Chatter” has this to say about Crick, the Giants first round pick in the 2011 Amateur Draft.
Just for fun, I totaled his 2013 numbers, including the Cal League postseason and the AFL… read it and weep: 23 G, 21 GS, 95 IP, 1.80 ERA, 64 H, 2 HR, 53 BB, 132 K.
Ditch the walks, and we’ve got a monster on our hands folks. He’s 21 years old.
If you’re a baseball fan in Richmond who looks forward to going to games in a cozy, new downtown ballpark, it looks like you’ll have to wait at least three more seasons before you can look up at the skyscrapers.
Meanwhile, giants roam on the field north of the city.
Happy Fifth to the Flying Squirrels!