An Urgent Appeal to all people of good will to help prevent plans to put a baseball stadium in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom, one of the most important historical sites for people of African descent in all of North America.
Richmond is now at a crossroads: Does it offer up its most historic neighborhood to profit-hungry developers only interested in making a quick buck, or do we develop it as a national historic district that tells all its many stories – American Indian, the founding of the city of Richmond, Quaker, Mason, Jewish and, most importantly, the fact that it was from here that hundreds of thousands of Africans and people of African descent were sold here into lives of slavery?
Such a historic district can only be developed as a result of a real community conversation, primarily within the Black community. Some suggestions so far are to lncude parkland, a museum, genealogy center, bookstore, performing arts space, educational conference center and more that would draw millions from across the country and around the world. For those only interested in the money, it would generate far more revenue for the city, its hotels, motels, restaurants and other attractions than a minor-league ballpark that only draws crowds from the surrounding counties – crowds that after the ballgames get right back on the highway and go home. And it doesn't require the city taking on a $100 million public debt that could leave us headed to bankruptcy if the economy falls into another recession.
Here's some media coverage on the alternative proposal:
Nearly 3,300 people have signed the petition against a Shockoe Bottom stadium. Stories about this struggle have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Ottawa Sun and in news outlets throughout Africa. Richmond City Council is taking the highly unusual move of holding public district hearings before voting on the developers' proposal. We all are putting up a great fight, but we need more people to get involved if we are to prevail over the powerful influences of money and politics.
* Ask your friends on social media to sign the ONLINE PETITION. (See "Take Action Now" on the upper right of this home page.) As of March 8 we had nearly 3,300 signatures! This is by far the largest expression of public opinion on this issue to date. Let's keep it going and not let our opponents beat us at community organizing!
* Contact your City Council representatives and tell them you won't stand for a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The pro-business group Venture Richmond has hired a public relations firm to try and build support on council. They have the money, but we have the numbers. Express yourself! For contact information, see:
* Bring your friends to the City Council meetings and district hearings. Bring signs - and speak out!
* Make a sign and put it in your car window and a front window in your house. Write a song. Draw a picture. Make council see the writing on the walls. Be creative. Be your own leader.
* Stadium opponents have been lobbying every member of City Council, and we do not believe the mayor has the seven out of nine votes necessary to pass the land-related ordinances necessary to put a stadium in the Bottom - but we won't know for sure till council votes. Until then, more pressure is needed.
We are NOT against development. In fact, opponents have developed an alternative plan, one that would bring in much-needed revenue for the City and allow development on the Boulevard and non-sacred areas of Shockoe Bottom while properly memorializing the area where hundreds of thousands of people of African descent suffered, resisted and as a people survived one of the worst atrocities in human history. See "Alternative Vision for Shockoe Bottom" at www.shockoebottom.blogspot.com.
'NO to a Shockoe Stadium - YES to a Historic District!'