Axios Richmond

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πŸ‹ It's the day of Wednes.

🌦️ Today's weather: Partly sunny with a chance of showers and a high near 74.

🎧 Sounds like: "Diamonds" by Rihanna.

Today's newsletter is 888 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: ⚾️ What's going on with the Diamond District

The latest rendering of the full Diamond District. Image: Courtesy of the cit of Richmond

Richmond City Council is poised to approve a new financing plan for the decades-in-the-making new baseball stadium set to replace The Diamond.

Why it matters: The proposal, which the council will vote on next month, could put the city and taxpayers on the hook for the full cost of the new stadium.

  • It's also one of several major changes in recent weeks to the broader Diamond District project, the $2.4 billion development expected to change the look of the neighborhood as it's built out over the next 15 years.

The latest: Earlier this month, city officials presented to the council a plan to issue $280 million in city-backed general obligation bonds to pay for the construction of the stadium, per the Times-Dispatch.

  • Previously, the plan called for nearly $500 million in bonds issued through a newly-created community development authority.
  • The financing change would lock in a lower interest rate and reduce the total project cost by around $215 million over 30 years, according to city estimates.
  • Construction is set to begin this summer with the stadium opening in spring 2026 for the Flying Squirrel's season opener.

Yes, but: Critics of the plan argue the financing shifts the risk from the developer, onto the city and its taxpayers.

Flashback: In 2021, the city started publicly marketing the "Diamond District" for redevelopment.

  • The chief goals for the developer were to build a baseball stadium financially structured to "minimize public investment and risk and maximize private investment," per BizSense.

What's next: City Council is scheduled to vote on the finance changes on May 8, but a majority of council members have indicated they support the proposal if for no other reason than rejecting it means the city might lose its baseball team. Again.

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2. πŸ‘€ Stoney drops out of governor's race

Levar Stoney at a campaign rally for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2021. Photo: Carlos Bernate/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Levar Stoney is dropping his bid for the 2025 Democratic nomination for Virginia governor and will instead run for lieutenant governor, his campaign announced yesterday.

State of play: Stoney was facing a difficult primary against fellow Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger in the race to succeed Gov. Youngkin next year.

  • While the June 2025 gubernatorial primary is more than a year away, Stoney dropping out makes it even more likely Spanberger will take the nomination, AP reports.
  • She's seen as a "formidable candidate" by both parties due to her name recognition, centrist politics and record of winning races, per AP.

Why it matters: The mayor of Richmond won't have an easy road to the nomination for lieutenant governor either. Other announced or potential candidates have already lined up support from prominent Democrats, per the Washington Post.

Zoom in: The Democrats Stoney will run against for lieutenant governor include:

  • State Sen. Aaron Rouse from Virginia Beach, who also announced his run yesterday.
  • Babur Lateef, a Northern Virginia eye surgeon and chair of the Prince William County School Board.
  • And state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi from Chesterfield who is rumored to be preparing to announce.

Go deeper with how the Republican ticket is shaping up

3. 🌊 The Current: A school board's $600K lawsuit

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ‘©β€βš–οΈ A Virginia school board in Bedford County filed a $600,000 lawsuit against a parent who has called them out for the district's alleged inadequate treatment of his son, who has a learning disability. (Virginia Mercury)

  • The Board is claiming illegal intimidation and harassment. The father says it's retaliation.

🎨 A Richmond artist and VCU graduate is proposing an outdoor public arts park under the Manchester Bridge. (Times-Dispatch)

The trial of a Virginia children's hospital's former medical director, who lives in Richmond and has had ex-patients accuse him of sexual abuse, began this week. (AP)

4. 🀀 3 new restaurants to try

The Texas Inn is now open in for the former Izzy's Kitchen in the Museum District. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

It's been a red hot week for Richmond restaurant openings, so let's just dive in.

Texas Inn β€” the Richmond outpost of the Lynchburg-based Virginia diner chain β€” opened Monday in the former Izzy's Kitchen spot at 2901 Park Ave.

  • The classic diner-style restaurant is famous for its Cheesy Westerns, a cheeseburger topped with a fried egg and Monster Fries β€” fries, topped with chili and cheese.
  • Texas Inn is open Tuesday through Sunday at 8am with late night hours Wednesday through Saturday.
a white building
Smoke & Barrel is now open in the Fan. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

Smoke & Barrel opened last week in the former Lady N'Awlins space at 2329 W. Main St.

  • Highlights from the menu include brisket carbonara ($19) and pork ribeye and grits ($19), per the Times-Dispatch.

Keep reading for a French-inspired steakhouse in Chesterfield

5. πŸ—³οΈ 1 fun thing: Vote for new voter stickers

The four finalist stickers. Image: Courtesy of Richmond Office of Elections

Richmond residents are getting new "I Voted" stickers this year β€” and we get to help pick the design.

Stay of play: The Richmond Office of Elections is hosting an online contest to pick the winning sticker design from four finalists, all designed by VCU students.

Zoom in: The final four sticker designs are the artists' vision behind them, per VCU:

  • A cardinal wearing sunglasses, artist and DMV transplant Kansiny Nguyen's intentionally patriotic and colorful design.
  • An opossum filling out a ballot, a nod to "how opossums are basically Richmond's unofficial animal mascot," artist and Spotsylvania native Asia Rorick says.
  • An art deco-inspired skyline, an homage to the city's art scene, per Chesapeake native and artist Gabriel Thompson.
  • Or a colorful take on Richmond's architecturally-interesting landmarks β€” to show the "colorful personality of the people," says artist and Herndon native Tre Venable.

What's next: You can vote once a day here. The winners will be announced next Friday and the stickers in-use in November.

Tell a friend

πŸ€” Karri is very conflicted about which voter sticker she likes. Her gut reaction was the colorful cardinal, but the one that understands Richmonders' weird, but real, opossum love might be too perfect to ignore.

πŸ’€ Sabrina is watching this Cameo of expelled former Rep. George Santos allegedly telling Stoney that "redemption comes in the form of humility" before wishing him luck in his "job interview."

  • She also can't stop telling everyone about Halle Bailey posting that she's in Richmond on her Instagram story.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and Carlin Becker for copy editing today's edition.