The Blog Squad

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wilder Changes Mind; Earth's Tectonic Plates Jolted

Buried deep in the Times-Dispatch’s Commentary section yesterday was the story that should have been on A-1, emblazoned with the above headline. Did I miss something? I am not being facetious; I truly want to know if something got by me in the past several days about Wilder’s dramatic turnaround on the Braves’ stadium location. Anyway, it was an extraordinary little op/ed piece, but unfortunately will not be understood by the Wilder-impaired. Here, offered as a public service, is a Wilder-to-English translation:

WILDER:
One of the things that I've always tried to do in the years I've been in public service is to listen to the people. Hearing them is one thing; listening is another. The issue of where the Richmond Braves will play, if they remain in Richmond, is an appropriate reference for the analogy.
ENGLISH:
Do I have your attention?

WILDER:
At a time before I was elected Mayor of Richmond, it had been widely reported that the team would not play at The Diamond under any circumstances. Though I was not involved in any of the stated reasons for that decision, I had been made aware of certain facts.
ENGLISH:
I was both in and out of the loop — in to the extent that nothing of significance or importance may happen in this town without passing through me, out to the extent that I was, am and will remain blameless for any resulting fiascos.

WILDER:
As was reported by the media, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority — composed of representatives of Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield — had been authorized by its respective political jurisdictions to enter into agreement to lease The Diamond after extensive renovations were made. Apparently, all was ready for the appropriate signatories when the monkey wrench was volunteered by the former City Manager. He is alleged to have promised to build a new facility downtown for the Braves.
ENGLISH:
This whole thing is Calvin Jamison's fault.

WILDER:
This resulted in Chesterfield's withdrawal from the 10-year moral obligation vouchsafing for the issuance of bonds covering the indebtedness for the $18-million renovation and Diamond repairs.
ENGLISH:
It is also Chesterfield County's fault.

WILDER:
After Talks Collapsed
A series of events followed the withdrawal and subsequent avowal by the Braves, relative to their disinterest in continuing at The Diamond.
ENGLISH:
I am a lawyer, you know.

WILDER:
A group of young developers known as the Richmond Baseball Initiative (RBI) formed. I met with them and was informed that they had identified a site in the Shockoe Bottom that would be suitable to the Braves and was sanctioned by the parent organization.
In meeting with representatives of both, no developer was identified who could furnish the financial information necessary to go forward with such an ambitious undertaking. The RBI apparently folded its tent and faded from the discussion table.
ENGLISH:
RBI can share in the blame as well. Myself, not so much.

WILDER:
There was then brought forth a proposal seeking to create a Community Development Authority (CDA), which would require the approval of landowners controlling at least 51 percent of all land within the proposed area. Those of us in attendance were told that the plan would not require any tax increase on the part of the city, though we were not given a project pro forma to review. The plan did, however, assume that increased revenue above current levels from within the boundaries of the CDA would be available to defer debt service on the development.
Global Development Partners was the next iteration of proposing a new stadium to be built in Shockoe Bottom.
(I would add that none of the discussions referred to herein were at my initiation. To the contrary, I always pointed out that under the city's charter, the ultimate determination of the issue of the stadium location was to be decided by the City Council. I have never seen any plan of financing set forth nor any agreement of landowners made public for any consideration, either by me or by the Council.)
ENGLISH:
Also, City Council...

WILDER:
There also seems to have been a withdrawal and fading away by Global Development Partners.
ENGLISH:
...and of course, Global Development Partners.

WILDER:
It was then that I, after discussions with the developers of Rocketts Landing, asked the Braves if they had any interest in a Fulton Bottom site at the Fulton Gas Works. I was under the impression that they were interested and would enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), as had been literally stated in their e-mail correspondences to our office of economic development. Notwithstanding the Braves' failure to forward the MOU, there still may be the interest that I had gleaned from all of the communications.
ENGLISH:
Try as I might to save the day in the most heroic fashion, one can clearly see that the Braves have been at fault all along.

WILDER:
People Have Spoken
I said I listen to the people. I have determined from all of the correspondence and discussions and conversations that I have had with the people of the area — not just in the City of Richmond — that they feel that the most adequate place for a stadium in the area is the present area of The Diamond. I know what plans we have for the complete redevelopment and beautification of that area.
ENGLISH:
But you do not.

WILDER:
I concur in their feelings and would like the Braves to know that the people of the metropolitan area want them to stay in Richmond. But we want them to stay at The Diamond.
ENGLISH:
(Um. This one is anybody's guess. Some translations might suggest "I have sincerely changed my mind and now believe the Diamond is the best location." OR ... "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," OR ... "OK, Braves. You won't play at the Diamond? Are you ready for some MAJOR LEAGUE hardball?")

3 Comments:

At Tue May 09, 04:39:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How very funny and true. Wilder is the master of talking in circles. Too bad this post wasn't coupled with audio of his unmistakable voice.

 
At Sat May 13, 10:25:00 AM EDT, Anonymous man on Fulton Hill said...

I live in Fulton. Our civic association asked the Mayor to talk to us about the Stadium in our Neighborhood. Of course we heard nothing. While I'd love to see development in my neighborhood and think the Braves should stay. I don't think I'd like the traffic or the empty baseball stadium (for that half a year it's not being used.) Thanks for making this news known (because the mayor won't talk with us) and thanks for the translation.

 
At Sat May 13, 03:07:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Listen to the people" ?!

First of all, he seems to do this very selectively. Second of all I don;t think he's done it in any organized fashion here. Has there been a reliable poll? Or does he just listen to the people he surrounds himself with?

As an 30ish professional - and I know many others like myself - I want a ballpark that is a destination. I think the city could use one that has some ancillary economic value (ie close to retail, bars and restaurants rather than freeway exits and a bus station).

I don't always agree with him, but michael paul williams hit the nail on the head in a recent column:

"Something's wrong when the major selling point for a stadium site is the ease in which fans can beat a hasty retreat back to the 'burbs."

 

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