Despite the public opposition to the planned mixed-use development in Shockoe Bottom that includes a new baseball stadium, news media is reporting on Friday that city officials have not considered not having a stadium.
A second public hearing was held Thursday night in the 2nd district, hosted by City Council President Charles R. Samuels. Over 160 people showed up at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center's theater. With a seating capacity of 60, this left the larger portion of the crowd standing in the hallway outside the theater for two hours.
The discussions centered around the baseball park, with the majority of the crowd being in opposition to its being built in the Bottom. Crist Berry, a concerned citizen, asked why the city can’t just tear down The Diamond and develop the Boulevard.
The new Boulevard development is estimated to net $187 million in projected revenue for the city. “I’m not sure I’m sold that we need a stadium in the first place,” Berry said after the meeting.
George Schick, another attendee, asked city officials to give out some more "meat" explaining just how all the projected development would generate enough revenue to pay off the debt taxpayers were going to accrue."When I hear from a politician that something will pay for itself, alarm bells start going off,” Schick said.
David Hicks, senior policy adviser to Mayor Dwight C. Jones, reiterated the administrations focus has been on economic development for the city, as well as maintaining a relationship with the "Flying Squirrels."
Hicks said, “The discussion on the table was not: no baseball, The discussion on the table was: How do we accommodate baseball in a way that doesn’t hurt the taxpayers?” This was Hicks' second night standing before a crowd, defending Mayor Jones' proposal for a mixed-use development in Shockoe Bottom.
Through both public meetings, so far, with the majority of those attending being opposed to the new baseball stadium, it leads one to wonder if City Council is really listening to the voice of the citizens.
And after Thursday night, with Hicks saying point blank that "no stadium" was ever considered, it makes one wonder why city officials are going through the motions of having public meetings.
From the planned rhetoric being spewed by Hicks and City Council, the mayor has no plans to take into account what anyone says, because the stadium is going to be built, no matter what.