close
close

Latest Post

This Richmond couple said last year’s floods prepared them for more. And then came more California experienced five earthquakes within hours, one day after Lake County, Ohio, was shaken

New sports facilities rarely go smoothly. Land and financing must be acquired, politicians and their voters courted, architects and building contractors commissioned and tenants found.

Projects with so many components are bound to have potholes, if not dead ends.

Against all odds, it appears possible for the Greater Richmond area to complete three complementary facilities in a short period of time, thanks to the vision, determination and patience of countless people.

Examples of how rare this is can be found in the north and in the nation’s capital. Washington’s NFL franchise has long been yearning for a new stadium, but incompetent owners – thankfully Dan Snyder is gone – and internal political power struggles make things even more difficult.

People also read…

Additionally, Virginia lawmakers this year rejected a proposed construction of an arena for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals next to Virginia Tech’s Innovative Campus in Alexandria. Instead, the teams will remain in the district, where the current building will undergo a much-needed renovation.

Now look southeast to Hampton Roads, where I have worked for 36 years and have lost count of the pipe dreams: a stadium for Major League Baseball, arenas for the NBA and/or NHL, a race track for NASCAR. There has not been a single groundbreaking.







041724-rtd-sp-hallp02

The Henrico Sports & Events Center


NiICOLAS GALINDO, TIMES-DISPATCH


Within months of its opening in December 2023, the Henrico Sports & Events Center welcomed an exceptionally large crowd to the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament. Conference officials were so impressed that they renewed a two-year contract with the venue that calls for a third edition of the tournament in 2026 to coincide with the league’s 50th anniversary.

Sure, the University of Richmond’s championship helped drive high attendance at the 3,500-capacity arena this year, but the A-10 would not have signed on for another year if it had lacked accommodations and management.

The $50 million sports and events center has also hosted the Special Olympics, youth gymnastics and volleyball, high school graduations and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Plans for the region include a 10,000-seat baseball stadium that will be home to Richmond’s minor league franchise and VCU, as well as the 17,000-seat GreenCity Arena in Henrico, which officials hope will attract college basketball, minor league hockey and concerts.







070924-rtd-met-diamondp01

You can see a representation of the new baseball stadium in the Diamond District. A 360-degree hall will be one of the highlights.


CITY OF RICHMOND


As the Times-Dispatch’s John O’Connor reported Monday, Gilbane Building and Prestige Construction, both based in Richmond, are working together on the stadium that will replace The Diamond on North Arthur Ashe Boulevard. The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, since 2010, prompted the Diamond’s inadequacies to move the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate to Gwinnett County, Georgia, after 42 years in RVA.

The latter stages of the R-Braves’ stay coincided with Atlanta’s streak of 14 division titles in 15 seasons, with the dominance led by Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones. With the exception of Maddux, who began his career in the Chicago Cubs system, all played in Richmond before moving up to the major leagues.

Led by men like Todd Parnell and Lou DiBella, the Squirrels have had success. But Richmond’s partnership with Atlanta made much more geographical sense for the parent club, and as O’Connor noted, the idea of ​​the Washington Nationals moving their Triple-A team from Rochester, New York, to a new stadium in Richmond was discussed.

And why not? Leaving Rochester and moving to Richmond would put every Nats member – Fredericksburg, Wilmington, Delaware, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are the others – within 120 miles of Washington.

Regardless of the tenant, the ballpark, whose completion has been delayed by years of political maneuvering and is planned to be financed through $170 million in general obligation bonds, is expected to be a community asset and draw larger crowds to the stadium and surrounding community when it opens in 2026.

Yes, there is a risk to the city if revenue from the stadium and adjacent developments is not enough to cover the debt. But with the Flying Squirrels on pace to set a franchise attendance record this season — despite the Diamond’s shortcomings, their average attendance is 6,824, just above their 2013 average — the risk seems negligible.







GreenCity Layout

A rendering of GreenCity’s planned floor plan shows a 17,000-seat arena, offices and residential space.


GreenCity LLC



Size and versatility make GreenCity Arena, a cornerstone of a $2.3 billion conceptual commercial and residential district, the most intriguing of the projects, especially with regard to college basketball.

Conference and NCAA tournaments. Regular season competition on neutral ground. Men and women.

Fourteen Division I programs from eight conferences grace the Commonwealth, and most, if not all, would be interested in playing in the GreenCity in some capacity. These include the A-10 (VCU, Richmond and George Mason) and the ACC (Virginia and Virginia Tech).

Consider this coming season, when UVa and Tech will play a doubleheader against Villanova and Penn State, respectively, in Baltimore in November. If such games make sense in a Baltimore arena that’s past its prime, why not in a new facility in Richmond?

The same goes for women’s basketball and its growing fan base. Charlotte, North Carolina, will host a doubleheader between Virginia Tech and Iowa and NC State and South Carolina this season, and it’s safe to assume that the Henrico Sports & Entertainment Commission, led by former Richmond Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier, could attract similar events.

Add a Taylor Swift show and the building becomes a landmark.