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The Diamond

October 6, 2011

Editors note: This post isn’t so much about the Squirrels as a team, but the position they find themselves in. I fully support the decisions that Lou DiBella has made and what ge has done to make The Diamond something to go to again.

For those that live/lived in Richmond, the drama that is The Diamond is well-known. Actually, if it weren’t for that drama the Flying Squirrels wouldn’t be here, but something desperetly needs to be done and soon. For those that don’t know, let me give you the rundown.

The city of Richmond elected Doug Wilder in 2005. His first week in office was fun as he shook things up around the city, in a good way. Then everyone realized that he was just bat-shit crazy. The Diamond at that time was a complete and utter dump, as it had been for some 10+ years. The Richmond Braves, the then AAA affiliate for the Braves now located in Gwinnett, had been lobbying for some time either for a new stadium or at least money to do major renovations. They were so serious about the need for the improvements that ownership said they would leave Richmond once their lease was up. Wilder called their bluff, chanted some crazy BS, and the Braves left.

2009 comes around, the now Flying Squirrels, are looking to relocate from Connecticut. The city of Richmond comes calling and, as they say, the rest is history. Not really, however. You see, for the city of Richmond to even be able to put in an APPLICATION to get the Squirrels the higher-ups in the EL said Richmond had to show progress towards a new facility.

Two years later, The Diamond is still the center of all the attention. In the August 27th article for the Richmond Times-Dispacth John O’Connor reports that Lou DiBella (President) will not be putting any more money into the stadium after “sinking” more that $2 million in upgrades and renovations. And he shouldn’t. The Diamond has become a real problem for Richmond, not only for safety reasons but it has just become an overall eye-sore. Built in 1985 it is the second oldest stadium in the EL, only behind Reading (1951), all other stadiums have been built, or heavily renovated, no later than 1992.

In the article DiBella said that even though they don’t foresee a new stadium before 2014, he was promised 2013 after relocation, they don’t expect to move the franchise right now. As happy as that makes me, I don’t fully believe it.

Richmond is a baseball city. Not solely because of the Squirrels, but because of the rich talent and tradition of high school baseball all the way down to Little League. Far too long has the city has dragged its feet on what to do with the Diamond. In a conversation I had with Dave Gershman* he mentioned how he thought at some point in time all MLB teams will have their minor league teams within a relatively close distance to them.  It is my fear that Dwight C. Jones, current mayor, might be making this decision a bit easier for the Giants.

I understand that there is such a thing as a ‘halo’ that comes with either new teams and/or new stadiums. But those halos usually only last a year, ESPECIALLY if the team is no good. However, after leading the EL in attendance in 2010 and coming in second in 2011, AND getting the extra boost from hosting the Eastern Division series and having two home games in the championship series, the fans have put the onus on the city to actually do something. It is my fear that if something isn’t done soon, Richmond is once again going to be left without a minor league club.

* Dave ( @Dave_Gershman ) covers both the Fisher Cats and the New York Penn League. He is a great follow on Twitter.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 4:29 pm

    I find that comment interesting re: teams will all soon have their MiLB teams relatively close in proximity. While I have found it crazy when Florida for a while had their AAA team in Edmonton, or the insanity of the Mets – New Orleans relationship or even crazier Blue Jays – Las Vegas its funny that in this day in age of high speed travel we are moving in that direction. In the 1950s Minneapolis was the Triple-A team for the Giants in New York, you’d think that’d be more applicable now given it is a 2-3 hour flight that teams do routinely.

    While there are certainly advantages to proximity. The Tigers with their Triple-A team in Toledo could conceivably make a call up in the third inning and have a guy ready for the sixth, those advantages don’t work if Detroit is playing in Oakland. You’d think teams would simply gravitate to the best markets – though I assume there’s some residual advantage to making a team popular in a minor league city (Scranton probably wins over some Yankees fans now instead of them gravitating to the Phillies, etc). Strange because I don’t see it as the fait accompli that Gershman does.

  2. October 6, 2011 4:42 pm

    The way I took it, and how I think he meant it, was to make it easier to keeps tabs on players and try to save some money. I also feel that you can regionalize fan bases even more by clustering the MiLB clubs. But then you have then San Francisco-Oakland, Washington-Baltimore problem in a totally new light.

    I will say this, I have ALWAYS loves the Toronto-Reno connection.

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