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Ballpark Changeup Could Mean Proposal Needs Fewer Votes to Pass

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Mayor Dwight Jones’ proposal to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom may ultimately need fewer votes from City Council to pass than expected.

Because the original resolution presented by Jones to council called for the sale of city land, the deal would have required yes votes from seven of nine council members.

A revised resolution heard by City Council’s committee on land use Tuesday adds language that opens the door to leasing the city land rather than selling it.

The change could lower the bar for passage to six yes votes, the number required for the special use permit the stadium would need.

It’s only one vote, but could be key in the deal’s ultimate passage. Jones himself has said he may not have enough support for it to succeed and no council members have publicly committed to supporting the plan.

Byron Marshall, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the mayor has not told him he intends to pursue a lease of the city land rather than a sale, but he also acknowledged “it certainly creates the option.”

“The whole intent is to get this thing passed,” Marshall said. “I don’t think the mayor would deny he’s trying to get it passed.”

To that end, the revised resolution includes other changes Marshall said he hoped would address financial concerns voiced by council members, primarily by allowing the administration to negotiate deals with land owners and developers that would then come back to council for approval before the stadium proposal is finalized.

The revised ordinance also changes the timeline for the project, setting a March 27 deadline for the finalization of development agreements and land acquisition contracts.

Members of council’s land use committee -- Jon Baliles, Kathy Graziano and Michelle Mosby -- voted to advance the resolution to the full council with no recommendation for approval.

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