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Flying Squirrels pledge $3 million yearly lease for new ballpark

The fee would be 15 times what the organization pays for The Diamond lease each year, but would increase team involvement with ballpark design

Fans sit in the bleachers of the Diamond.

The Squirrels are among the best attended franchises in Minor League Baseball.

Photo by RICtoday

The Flying Squirrels have reportedly pledged $3 million a year to lease the new ballpark promised as part of the Diamond District. The fee is 15 times what the organization currently pays to lease the Diamond, and would be the highest in Minor League Baseball.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, this would increase the organization’s influence on the stadium’s design. The project is also moving forward with a different developer, Odell Associates Inc., rather than the originally selected DLR Group.

The annual payment will reportedly be offset by contributions from VCU, since the baseball program shares the space. The Squirrels also plan to court a naming-rights deal.

Diamond District Renderings

RVA Diamond Partners was chosen to lead the Diamond District development project.

Image via city documents

The new design team and possible name deal could mean a fresh look for Richmond’s new stadium. Odell’s porfolio of entertainment venues includes BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, NC. It has also published renderings for an indoor athletic complex in Henrico.

Odell was initially part of the Richmond Community Development Partners group, one of three teams invited to respond to the Diamond District RFO last year. RVA Diamond Partners wound up being chosen.

As far as naming rights, RTD reports that CarMax could be an early favorite to secure the deal.

The most recent Flying Squirrels season, which wrapped up last month, brought 428,541 fans to the Diamond — enough to earn the Squirrels the title of Double-A Attendance Champions. The season was also the last full-time outing for Todd “Parney” Parnell, who stepped down as CEO to take a less strenuous position as a team adviser.

Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in April 2024. The city wants it done by the end of 2025 and ready for Squirrels fans on opening day in 2026.

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