It turns out that you don’t have to meet owner demands for a new stadium to host a minor-league baseball team.
The sign outside The Diamond still proclaims “Home of the Richmond Braves,” but Richmond and its 24-year-old stadium will have a new professional baseball team beginning next spring.
After months of delays, the long-anticipated relocation of the Class AA Connecticut Defenders was announced yesterday by regional and team officials who gathered at The Diamond in front of a banner that read, “Play Ball!”
“We’re here to say baseball is back,” Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said.
Richmond has been without pro baseball since the Class AAA Richmond Braves moved to a new $64 million stadium in Gwinnett County, Ga., after the 2008 season.
The Atlanta Braves severed their 43-year relationship with Richmond after growing frustrated by the outdated condition of The Diamond and the lack of progress on a long-term stadium plan.
Though there’s still no plan or even a timetable to get one, owners of the Defenders franchise said they’re ecstatic to come to Richmond and plan to spend at least $1.5 million to upgrade The Diamond by opening day in April.