Rich­mond’s ready for the ma­jor leagues, com­pany says

De­spite a pro­posal to re­place the Coli­seum, an ef­fort to lure a team prob­a­bly is a long shot

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - BY MICHAEL PHILLIPS

Hun­den Strate­gic Part­ners, the firm hired by Rich­mond Mayor Le­var Stoney to re­view a pro­posed re­place­ment for the Rich­mond Coli­seum, has de­clared the city one of the na­tion’s best mar­kets for a pro sports team to lo­cate in.

Hun­den re­leased the list on Fri­day, of­fer­ing a list of the top mar­kets “ready to host a Ma­jor League fran­chise” — a team from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL or Ma­jor League Soc­cer. The list is un­re­lated to its role vet­ting the Coli­seum deal.

Austin, Texas, came in at No. 1; with Louisville, Ky., No. 2; and the Hamp­ton Roads area at No. 3. Rich­mond was fourth.

The Hamp­ton Roads area pre­vi­ously

tried to land an NBA team, but was un­suc­cess­ful in lur­ing the Sacra­mento Kings to a pro­posed Virginia Beach arena.

The Hun­den list ranks Rich­mond as the No. 5 po­ten­tial mar­ket for an NBA team to re­lo­cate to, in­clud­ing cities that cur­rently have ma­jor league teams. Seat­tle tops the list and is widely con­sid­ered a fa­vorite to land a team in the com­ing years to re­place the Seat­tle Su­perSon­ics, which moved to Ok­la­homa City.

The pro­posed deal to re­place the Rich­mond Coli­seum does not in­clude any pro­vi­sions about get­ting a pro sports team, and such an out­come is con­sid­ered ex­tremely unlikely.

De­pend­ing on the ca­pac­ity and de­sign of the pro­posed sta­dium, it would be el­i­gi­ble for events like the NCAA bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment. It would also be an at­trac­tive home for a mi­nor league team. Right now, the Coli­seum is home to the Rich­mond Roughrid­ers. The arena hosted mi­nor league hockey for many years, most re­cently with the Rich­mond Rene­gades.

Rich­mond’s in­clu­sion on Hun­den’s list is based in part on its stand­ing as one of the top sports TV mar­kets in the coun­try. NFL ratings in par­tic­u­lar are of­ten among the top 5 in the na­tion.

The pre­sen­ta­tion iden­ti­fied Rich­mond or Hamp­ton Roads as the No. 2 mar­ket for a new NFL team, though NFL rules as writ­ten would al­low the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins to block any such re­lo­ca­tion or ex­pan­sion.

While Rich­mond has hosted sev­eral mi­nor league teams over the years, the like­li­hood of any top-tier team re­lo­cat­ing to the city is ex­tremely min­i­mal.

The clos­est Rich­mond has come to a pro team is the Virginia Squires of the ABA, a league that was folded into the NBA. The Squires played home games in both Nor­folk and Rich­mond and were con­sid­ered a re­gional team. Rich­mond Race­way hosts NASCAR’s top level of com­pe­ti­tion, the Monster En­ergy Cup.

Hun­den re­leased the list Fri­day as part of a “State of the In­dus­try” pre­sen­ta­tion.

The city re­tained the Chicago-based firm for $112,000 on June 25 to study the re­de­vel­op­ment plan, ac­cord­ing to an agree­ment the city re­leased to the Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch. The firm will an­a­lyze the fi­nan­cial un­der­pin­nings and po­ten­tial eco­nomic im­pact of the plan sub­mit­ted by NH District Corp., a non­profit group led by Do­min­ion En­ergy CEO Thomas F. Far­rell II.

1970, TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Rich­mond used to have a bas­ket­ball team called the Virginia Squires, which was part of the ABA. The Squires were con­sid­ered a re­gional team and played home games in both Nor­folk and Rich­mond. These play­ers (from left) com­peted for ros­ter spots in 1970: Larry Brown, Char­lie Scott, Henry Lo­gan, Roland “Fatty” Tay­lor and Mike Bar­rett.

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