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Experts: Downtown ballpark could revitalize Richmond

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Richmond Flying Squirrels

As Richmond officials continue to debate the best course of action regarding a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) ballpark, experts advise a downtown location for the most impact.

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy was on a panel discussing new ballpark at the Real Estate Trends Conference, and his advice was clear: build downtown for the most impact. It's a subject where he has experience: as mayor in the 1990s, he was a key player in getting PNC Park built in downtown Pittsburgh. And while the team has struggled over the years, there's no doubt PNC Park and neighboring Heinz Field have had a positive economic impact.

That impact can be had in Richmond:

Building a baseball park or an arena will be a catalyst for private investments, higher payroll and sales tax revenues, more employment and economic growth, Murphy said.

Richmond has the same opportunity as Pittsburgh, he said. "It's not a transaction to build a baseball stadium, but a strategy to build vibrancy and activity."...

The most successful cities are those with sites near each other in pedestrian-friendly, redeveloped downtown areas, the speakers said.

The city and the Flying Squirrels are still talking about a new-ballpark deal; a plan to build a new facility next to The Diamond is apparently dead, and two downtown locations are in play.

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