RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Football is returning to city stadium this week. The Virginia Hornets will take the field this Saturday. It's the first football game at the stadium in more than a year, since the Richmond Spiders left.
For the 2011 major league football season, Richmond's Hornets will call City Stadium home.
"After 2-3 years trying to get to city stadium it's a blessing to be able to come here and play football," said coach Clifford Jefferson.
We first caught up with the Hornets at practice two years ago, when they first set their sights on City Stadium.
"And now it's finally open. It's a good fit. It's a match made in heaven," said General Manager Darryl Badley.
The Richmond Kickers have been playing here for 10 years, but the idea of football coming back took a hit last year when local developer, the Fulton Hill Partnership started passing around a proposal to turn this area into a mixed use development... 40% residential, with office space, retail and restaurants.
That started a debate, which got heated at several community meetings. Neighbors even launched a Facebook pages in support of keeping it a stadium.
VCU's athletic director, Norwood Teague even stepped into the debate. "We are very interested in the stadium," he told Channel 12 in an interview last Winter.
The City Council passed an ordinance requiring the Mayor's administration to hire a firm to do a study of the highest and best use for the site. Council gave them 150 days.
We asked, but still no word from the Mayor's office on when that study will be complete. And we've seen no indication publicly, that the process has even begun.
In the meantime, the Virginia Hornets say they are hoping to use this opportunity to show the city football has a home in this stadium.
"If you have two professional high top quality teams in the city of Richmond playing at city stadium, then it's being used for what it's for," said Badley.
The Hornets first game starts this Saturday at 7:00 on July 23rd. It's the first of five home games and possibly playoffs if they keep winning.