Aside from location, the biggest obstacle is funding. The proposed ballpark is estimated to cost $58 million, of which about $18.5 million would come from the public sector. The proposal calls for raising $30 million in private dollars.
One City Hall source close to the negotiations says the Braves have indicated a willingness to donate between $7 million and $10 million to jumpstart the cash flow.
Richmond Braves General Manager Bruce Baldwin says the $10 million figure may be a tad ambitious. The Braves are willing to put up a significant amount of money, he says, but probably not that much.
“The number at this point is a nebulous amount,” Baldwin says. “I would think we’re probably talking a couple million plus.”
Regardless, the commitment from the Richmond Braves, the top farm team for the big-league Atlanta Braves, will help the fund-raising considerably. The team can pre-lease luxury boxes, sell the naming rights to the stadium and offer other incentives to generate support from Richmond’s corporate community.
Teams such as the Braves shouldn’t have a problem raising $20 million to $30 million in private money, says Dennis Coates, a sports economist at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, in part because they have a long track record from which to project profits.
Although unfamiliar with the specifics of the Richmond proposal, Coates, who has authored numerous studies on stadium financing, says $30 million isn’t unreasonable. “There are lots of reasons why private investors would do this,” he says. — Scott Bass
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