Baseball in The Bottom might be closer to becoming a reality. The NAACP, a group historically opposed to building a new ball park in Shockoe, has had some of its fears calmed.
The head of the organization took a tour of the plans and after hearing where everything would be situated, he's gone from a resounding "no" on the proposal to an "ok, let's talk about it."
For King Salim Khalfani, maps and blueprints of the proposal to build a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom weren't enough. He wanted to see for himself exactly what would be where.
He pointed out home plate would be in the middle of a parking lot behind the 17th Street Farmers' Market, the bases would be laid out around it and right field would be near the Exxon station on East Broad Street.
King showed us what he learned on his tour of the site, specifically how it would affect important African-American historical places. He says the proposal for the actual physical ball park is not on top of the nearby slave burial grounds or the Lumpkin's Slave Jail. Khalfani says that offers some relief.
To use a sports metaphor, that might turn the tide of this game, considering he has gone on the record opposing any plans to build down there but is now "open to talking with the city."
There's also some concern the external development, which would go along with the stadium, might clash with the historical sites. Those plans aren't set in stone.
One important issue Khalfani says still needs to be addressed is whether or not it is appropriate to have an entertainment venue so close to the solemn sites.
NBC12 brought that concern to Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier.
"We feel that with some more exciting things happening down here that it will actually give them a push in the right direction," he explained. "They can be part of the project and they can get heightened visibility."
Sources at city hall tell NBC12 The Bottom is being vetted more vigorously than any other proposed location and it is closer to being "shovel ready." There aren't any hard numbers on how much this project would cost the city just yet.
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