Developer unveils Boulevard stadium details; Councilwoman propos - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Developer unveils Boulevard stadium details; Councilwoman proposes referendum


The Rebkee Company is finally revealing the details of a plan to build a new stadium on the Boulevard, after the initial proposal was leaked back in May. Partner Rob Hargett says they're discussing the specifics now because the mayor withdrew his plan for Shockoe Bottom development.

These developers have already met with every city council member.

"What we've done is the 360 experience," Hargett said.

This stadium would be an experience with 6,000 fixed seats and the capacity to seat 10,000. 

"The berm areas that are so popular with the kids and the families, those are the cheap seats. Beer gardens, grand stands, 14 to 16 sky boxes, corporate entertainment areas -- all those drive revenue," Hargett said.

He says the company would purchase the land from the city, which is almost ten acres for the stadium and another five north of Robin Hood Road. There will be apartments similar to Camden Yards in Baltimore, commercial, office and restaurant space, along with a parking lot.

"This is the main brand in Richmond Virginia," Hargett said of the Flying Squirrels.

The new stadium would be on the land next to where The Diamond currently stands. For some perspective, it would be built where the city has its garage.

Mayor Dwight Jones' press secretary says the administration has ruled out the possibility of building a new ballpark on the Boulevard.

The mayor recently told a business group, "I want to keep baseball a regional amenity, but it's a bad idea to put it on the Boulevard. That's our most under-utilized piece of land. It generates zero real estate tax revenue today. That forces up real estate taxes for people living across Richmond, from the East End, to the Fan and Windsor Farms. If we leave the ballpark on the Boulevard, we'll limit our revenue, hamstring our schools, and guarantee high real estate taxes for a generation. That's unacceptable, and we need to move it."

Tammy Hawley also says there is no current plan to meet with the Rebkee developers.

But Hargett thinks the company could convince the mayor this is the way to go.

"We didn't think public debt in the Bottom was a good idea for the City of Richmond," he said. "Those dollars should be used for things like schools, police presence, trash pickup."

It is estimated this place will cost between $35 and $40 million. Rebkee already has loans secured with banks, has exchanged emails with Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall and hopes to meet with the city this week.

"By privately financing the plan, we remove all the risk," Hargett said.

Also, at Monday's city council meeting, one council member said she is trying to put the power back in the hands of the citizens.

Reva Trammell is hoping to introduce a referendum after she discusses it with the rest of City Council. It would let the public decide by putting a referendum on this November's ballot. If approved by the voters, essentially it would leave baseball on the Boulevard and authorize council to improve whatever stadium is on that site.

At a press conference opposing baseball in the Bottom Monday, the idea got some support.

"Let the citizens have a say, after all it's their tax money," former councilman Marty Jewell said. "It's their government."

Where does the "Revitalize RVA" plan stand right now? Press Secretary Tammy Hawley said, "We pulled it back, and we are incorporating ideas from the Council and the Community. We're very excited about the prospects that our plan generates for the city from both Shockoe and the Boulevard sites. We will enthusiastically reintroduce the plan when the time is right." 

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