Madrid. Florence. Copenhagen. … Richmond.
Yes, in the same breath. Get used to it, says Mayor Dwight Jones, who spent considerable time hailing the city's incredible sports magnetism in his State of the City address last week. Bikes! Redskins! Squirrels! Let us count the ways:
First down: The UCI World Cycling Championships descend in 2015, bringing with them "300 million people who will be focused on the city of Richmond," Jones says. That's why it's so important to renovate the old train shed in Shockoe Bottom, the one sitting empty next to Main Street Station. "We expect that project to begin in May of this year," Jones says, addressing mostly City Hall workers and civic leaders at the Carpenter Theatre. "We want our newly renovated train shed to open in time to welcome the UCI 2015 World Cycling Championships."
Second down: The new Washington Redskins' training camp behind the Science Museum of Virginia is under way! No obstacle is too tall for Jones, especially not 100 of the hardwood variety, which were deftly cleared out. And don't accuse the mayor's office of excluding the public. After razing the property a few weeks ago, the city now wants the public's input on how to landscape it.
Third down: There was some buzz last week that Jones was going to unveil the city's grand plan to build a ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels — wait for it — in Shockoe Bottom. This was to come just two years after Jones declared that the best place for a new ballpark is on the Boulevard during his 2011 State of the City address. Compare and contrast:
2011: "I also want to make clear my preference for a new Baseball Diamond on the Boulevard," Jones said, according to his prepared remarks. "I believe the new stadium on the Boulevard can be the catalyst for significant development along this major corridor."
2013: "With respect to location, let me say this so that we can be clear about the process going forward. Baseball decisions are going to be made based on sound financial analysis, anticipated economic impact, and our tax base and our local economy. But the bottom line: We are going to get it done."
Fourth down: Punt.