Sep 13, 2022 - News

Cheat Sheet: What’s in the Richmond stadium deal

a rendering of the diamond
A rendering of the planned Diamond District development with the first phase outlined in red. Photo courtesy of City of Richmond (area highlighted by Axios)

Construction of a new Minor League Baseball stadium would begin on Arthur Ashe Boulevard this spring under a tentative deal unveiled this week.

What’s happening: A year after issuing a request for proposals, the city finally selected a development team, RVA Diamond Partners, for the 67-acre redevelopment project.

  • And on Tuesday, officials released documents outlining the terms of the deal Richmond City Council members will be asked to approve later this month.

State of play: The developers have agreed to pay $68 million over the next decade to buy 54 acres of city-owned land along the Boulevard, according to the documents.

  • And they’ve pledged to eventually invest $2.4 billion in the new neighborhood that will rise around the stadium.

Why it matters: Richmonders have been debating whether and where to construct a new baseball stadium for decades.

  • But now the city is facing a 2025 deadline set by Minor League Baseball to provide the Richmond Flying Squirrels an upgraded new home or risk losing the team.

Details: To finish in time, the stadium would be built next to the existing ballpark as part of the project’s first phase, according to city documents.

  • City council members will be asked to approve the deal later this month.

In addition to a stadium, the first phase of the project includes:

  • More than 1,000 new apartments and 100 condos.
  • A 180-room hotel.
  • 58,000 square feet of new retail (that equates to about half the size of an average Target).
  • 1,700 garage parking spaces.
  • And an 11-acre park, plaza and skate park.

The stadium itself would be financed by bonds and repaid using tax revenues and special assessments generated within the new development.

  • The city estimates that after all those bonds are paid off, the first phase will generate $156 million in new tax revenue over 30 years.

Future phases would be built out beginning in 2027, with the final parcels, which contain the Arthur Ashe Center, going up for sale in 2033.

Of note: The financing plan differs from the failed coliseum proposal in that it does not draw on tax revenue outside of the new development to finance the stadium.

  • If tax revenues aren’t enough to cover bond payments for the stadium, Diamond District Partners would cover the shortfall, though they would then be able to deduct up to $33 million from the purchase price of city land for the second and third phases.

What we’re watching: The total budget for the ballpark, which officials have said will include 8,000 seats, is still to be determined under the term sheet released by the city, which cites uncertainty surrounding how much funding will be available on the bond market.

What’s next: A community meeting with the developers is planned for Wednesday at 6pm at the Bon Secours Training Center.

  • City council members could vote to approve the plan as early as Sept. 26, according to city documents.
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