RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Flying Squirrels and the City of Richmond have been at odds for months about the future of the team and the location where it plays. The president of Minor League Baseball is much more certain about what will happen if Richmond cannot find a home for the Squirrels.
“Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me,” MiLB President Pat O’Conner said Thursday at the Flying Squirrels’ Hot Stove Banquet, referring to the departure of the Richmond Braves in 2008. “We came here with a Double-A club under the assumption that a stadium was going to be built, and that’s been ten years ago. I would be hard-pressed to make that mistake twice.”
The Triple-A Richmond Braves left town in 2008 after plans for a new stadium fell through. O’Conner said even a lower-classification team, such as a Single-A team, would not come to Richmond without a new stadium.
“It’s about the facility itself. The Diamond has served her purpose, ” O’Conner said. “She’s been a good stadium for an awful long time, but her time has come and gone.”
O’Conner did not attend the public meetings hosted by the City of Richmond this week, but he said the level to which Richmonders were vocal about wanting to keep the Squirrels was a good sign.
“The people right now in this area in the metro and the city have the ability to control their own future, and I like that,” O’Conner said. “I want to keep it that way, but there’s going to come a point in time when hard decisions are going to have to be made.”
“If they’re not willing to make them here, I’m willing to make them [ at MiLB headquarters] in St. Petersburg [Fla.].”
O’Conner wanted to make it clear that Minor League Baseball wants to be in RVA.
“We love the area. We love the market. We love the fan base,” O’Conner said.
If it becomes apparent there will be no deal, O’Conner said that is when MiLB will act.
“The community will tell me when it’s time. When there’s no dialogue, when we’ve come to an absolute loggerhead, then we’ll know. I don’t think we’re there yet.”