Richmond to change Diamond District baseball stadium financing

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Richmond is changing its financial structure to pay for a new baseball stadium in the Diamond District.

The City Council will use a City Special Revenue Bond Approach instead of a Community Development Authority (CDA) revenue bond approach to finance the Flying Squirrels’ baseball stadium and Phase One infrastructure work of the Diamond District.

This means costs will be reduced by about $215 million over 30 years due to a decreased interest rate.

This new approach, according to the city council, will:

  • Not impact the city’s current improvement projects or the ability to afford other capital improvement projects, like new schools.
  • Eliminate the need for an expanded Tax Increment Financing (TIF district). All revenues would flow to the city’s General Fund.
  • Frees up approximately $23.7 million in debt capacity for Diamond District infrastructure.

These ordinances require a majority vote by the city council to be approved. Seven members of the city council have co-patronized them so far.

What’s new:

  • The special revenue bond will reduce overall project costs.
  • The Flying Squirrels manage the stadium’s design and construction through contracts with ODELL Construction and Machete Group.
  • The development team has changed from RVA Diamond Partners LLC, which consists of Thalhimer Realty Partner, LOOP Capital, and Republic, to Diamond District Partners LLC, which consists of Thalhimer Realty Partner and LOOP Capital.
  • The Diamond District will be developed by Thalhimer Realty Partner, an established local developer, and LOOP Capital, a Black-owned, nationally recognized investment banking firm.

What’s staying the same:

  • 67-acre site anchored by a new ballpark and mixed-use buildings
  • A Central park
  • 40% minority business enterprise requirements
  • 40% union labor for the stadium and infrastructure
  • 25% union labor for the privately financed portions of the project
  • 20% of the residential units to be affordable to lower-income households
  • Partnership with Virginia Union University to establish the Diamond District Small Business Institute and a $250,000 revolving loan program
  • Sustainably designed buildings.

Still, there are risks.

Richmond taxpayers could be on the hook if the redevelopment doesn’t generate enough revenue.

City Hall does not believe that will be an issue.

“This is going to be a place where people want to live, work and play, so the private development, the new multi-family housing, the affordable housing, the commercial retail spaces—we believe they all will be successful,” said Lincoln Saunders, Chief Administrative Officer of City Council.

Flying Squirrels president Lou Dibella says he’s on board with the change. Calling it “an important step toward ensuring that the squirrels will have a new home in Richmond. April 2026 is just around the corner.”

The City Council will review and vote on the updated development agreement and financing structure in the coming weeks.

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