At this point, I’m not sure if we can still call it a debate. I really don’t know what to call the situation regarding Shockoe Bottom these days but the fact(s) remain that Shockoe Bottom is no closer to DOING ANYTHING than it was on that faithful day in November (2013) when Nutzy was daping up Mayor Jones claiming the end of the debate, and protesters lined the back of the crowd shouting distracting (and pretty hilarious) chants in protest.
I would argue that since that press conference in November 2013, team pro-stadium, whether that is Mayor Jones, Loving RVA, Venture Richmond, the Flying Squirrels, etc. that side hasn’t really had a good day since. They’ve continued to lose message and momentum. It’s clearly not been a winning strategy, yet. But if they’re losing, help me understand who’s truly winning.
I struggle, and have struggled a long time with who is really winning this debate and what does winning mean. I just saw the video below from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and I must say that the 3 minutes I spent watching the video did more to get me critically thinking about the history of Shockoe than any Lupita tweet. Sidebar: Has anyone ever figured out what those Lupita tweets were all about? I’ve always wondered in regards to the multitude of opportunities in Shockoe Bottom, how do we as a community respect our ancestors, heritage, and history and yet prepare, plan, and take action for a better present and future. How does that happen? I don’t believe that can truly happen without mutual respect, meaningful dialogue, and compromise, on all sides.
So, help me understand, if stadium/development naysayers “win or get their way” what does that look like? Does that mean nothing happens in Shockoe Bottom? Am I stuck with a few decent eating spots and a few more “questionable” night clubs? And that does beg the question, where were all the protests about our sacred ground of Shockoe Bottom when they were building all those “sweet” clubs just a few blocks away from the Lumpkin’s Jail site? If status quo is acceptable, who’s really winning? Are our ancestors currently winning?
That doesn’t mean I need a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. I love baseball on the Boulevard. I’ve gone for years and will continue to go if it remains there. Where does that leave Shockoe? Who wins if baseball stays on the Boulevard?
I understand, I’m making very basic generalizations on a very complex topic. I get that. But I cringe when I read about all the political theater going on around this issue. It seems a little more cut and dry for me. The status quo in Shockoe Bottom does not do much to currently respect our history and heritage, it doesn’t seem to have a tremendous impact economically, it doesn’t do much of anything to move us forward with more jobs or access to meaningful food options…who does the current situation really benefit? I think a significant heritage museum is needed in Shockoe Bottom, with or without baseball. Yet, that’s not that the current package presented. How do we get closer to progress?
I understand the history of Shockoe Bottom…therefore, to a lot of people, the current stadium proposal is unacceptable. And on top of that, I understand that the city has significant challenges with schools, transportation, and infrastructure and maybe some of that money – from what I understand not much – can be used for general improvements. Does that transform us to a better future? It may, if we have a plan that our leaders can agree on. And yes, I use the term leaders loosely.
If I’m taking a poll now…tell me who’s really winning the Shockoe debate and how can we as a community truly move forward to a better tomorrow. I don’t have all the answers, I’m truly interested in how we make a better tomorrow. #WESEEIT