+8 A hometown team comes flying in our faces.
Perhaps county bigwigs could learn a thing or two from the city. (Did we just write that?) While Richmond sheds its edifice complex — albeit temporarily — Chesterfield County straps on the blindfold.
In their inaugural season in a broken-down stadium, the Richmond Flying Squirrels lead minor league baseball's Eastern League in attendance and merchandise sales. Meanwhile, SportsQuest Chief Executive Steve Burton convinces Chesterfield to cut a $4.3 million check for a megasports complex that didn't exist.
It's an unfamiliar juxtaposition. Chesterfield not only coughs up millions of dollars for a private sports complex, it does so even without a credible business plan. Burton builds his 17 soccer fields, but there's no evidence that he has the money to build the $250 million sports complex the county hopes will generate jobs and economic spinoff.
The Shockoe Bottom baseball bunch had tried to convince Richmond that baseball wouldn't return until the city committed to build a new stadium — in the Bottom. But maybe if you don't build it they'll still come: We get the Flying Squirrels, and they do just fine in The Diamond, the 25-year-old concrete bunker on the Boulevard. Did we mention the Squirrels lead the league in attendance — 6,626 per home game — and merchandise sales?
+1 Sa'ad El-Amin re-emerges (surprise!) with a fight.
If there are no comebacks in American politics, how do you explain Sa'ad El-Amin? After a three-year bid in federal prison on charges of fraud and conspiracy, and another three years of self-imposed quiet time, the former Richmond councilman jumps back into the spotlight with a lawsuit attempting to prevent the desecration of a supposed slave burial ground.
It's classic El-Amin. He sues the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Virginia Commonwealth University and even its new president, Michael Rao, to keep the university from using a Shockoe Bottom parking lot that he and some historians say sits atop the final resting place of slaves and free blacks. Opinions vary on whether that claim is accurate. And the suit itself is dismissed.
The parking is still owned by VCU, although at deadline, a deal to for the state to buy it and give it to the city seems likely. No immediate plans to stop parking on it mean if there is indeed a slave burial ground underneath, it's being desecrated like, right now. And sure, you may sometimes want him to just go away, but you know who's not going to let that stand? Sa'ad El-Amin, the take-no-prisoners style of figure who's recently fallen out of favor in conflict-averse Richmond. But admit it, behind that outward, mint-julep-fueled gentility, aren't you secretly glad he's back?
+5 A VCU student sees a dream realized.
Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron, a Virginia Commonwealth University student, is crowned Miss America on Jan. 30. At the pageant in a few weeks, she'll surrender her crown — perhaps to the current Miss Virginia, Richmonder Caitlin Uze. Giving up the title will be “bittersweet,” Cameron says, but she looks forward to a less scheduled life: “I don't think anyone could ever do this for more than a year.” She plans to return to VCU for another year to complete her major in broadcast communications.