Richmond, Va.’s minor-league team, the Triple-A Richmond Braves, is leaving town to be closer to its Atlanta mothership. The team and Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder weren’t able to come to terms about placing a new stadium downtown; the R-Braves currently play in the Diamond, an unloved, crumbling, 23-year-old facility that is far too big for minor-league games (but conveniently located near Buzz and Ned’s, my favorite barbecue place in the Commonwealth).
So there’s a smallish city not too far from here without a minor-league team, and, via Nationals Farm Authority, some rumors, or maybe just wishful thinking, that the Nats could move one of their double-A or single-A squads there (other teams seem to be considering Richmond as well). Expanding to Richmond might help the Nats lay claim to an area whose sports loyalties have trended ever-southward since the days when the Redskins were the de facto Team of the South.
But R-Braves games are ill-attended; I was at the Diamond two weekends ago, and most of the thin crowd (including me) left when the game went into extra innings. By moving, say, the Hagerstown Suns to Richmond, the Nats could tap a bigger market of such fairweather fans and maybe even convince a few to make the drive up to Nationals Park once in a while. And if Elijah Dukes gets sent down again, Richmond would offer far more entertainment options than either Hagerstown or Woodbridge, though it doesn’t have a zoo.
Photo of the Diamond by haaaley