Richard L. Sander, athletics director at VCU, has been in discussions recently with city officials and representatives of the Richmond Ballpark Initiative, a group of business owners promoting plans for a new stadium. VCU is interested in taking over The Diamond for its men’s baseball team, which currently plays its home games there.
“We’ve talked to them since January, that’s when this thing got a little more serious,” Sander says. “If it makes sense for us, it would be nice to help their project and help us.”
Taking over The Diamond would provide VCU with a critical mass along the Boulevard. The university is already planning an $8 million indoor tennis facility a few blocks away, and the men’s soccer team plays at the Sports Backers Stadium behind The Diamond.
The deal is by no means done. Even if the new $58 million baseball stadium moves forward – the leading site appears to be in Shockoe Bottom – it would likely be a couple of years, at the earliest, before ownership would change hands. And there is the issue of price. “I think the key issue for us is working out an arrangement for us that makes sense financially,” Sander says.
Also, there could be other bidders for the Diamond along the way. University of Richmond, which is currently working on plans for a new on-campus football stadium, currently isn’t one of them, says Simon Gray, director of athletic public relations at UR.
Gray says UR baseball is satisfied with its current home at Pitt Field. “We’re more than happy with our on-campus facility,” he says. – Scott Bass
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