Paul Goldman's Back Page piece (“Out of the Park,” Jan. 28) is on target. There are too many ifs and maybes in this latest proposal for a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom. One point that especially bothers us is the misleading insistence that we must commit now to this deal if we want to have a ball team. Along with financial planning, such a huge decision has to take many other things into consideration.
It should be noted that, while a ballpark can be put in many locations, the extraordinary history contained in this area is nowhere else and will be corrupted or lost if a stadium is placed on this site. A downtown ballpark might make Richmond more like other cities, but the history contained in Shockoe Bottom makes Richmond unlike any other city in the world. Tourism is Richmond's most underdeveloped asset, and Shockoe Bottom has the potential to be the jewel in heritage tourism that would rival any historic site. According to archaeologists, there is much more to be discovered here; and we must not stop digging until the search has been completed and made the important part of our city's education and economic future that it should be.
Let us develop this area with dignity, using history as the anchor tenant. An African-American museum and genealogy center associated with expanded archaeology will attract historians, students, and visitors from far and wide. Such an investment will be lasting, more worthwhile, and is the right thing to do.
Melinda and Ernest Skinner
Editor's note: Last week, developers of the Shockoe Center project extended the deadline, giving the city until August to approve preliminary plans.