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“Drastic restructuring” of MiLB system could impact Richmond Flying Squirrels after 2020 season

A new report circulating this morning first reported by Baseball America and later picked up by Sports Illustrated says Minor League Baseball and its league structure could be headed for “drastic” changes after the 2020 season – with unknown consequences for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, our MiLB affiliate.

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A new report circulating this morning first reported by Baseball America and later picked up by Sports Illustrated says Minor League Baseball and its league structure could be headed for “drastic” changes after the 2020 season – with unknown consequences for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, our MiLB affiliate.

The report claims Major League Baseball officials are looking to strip up to 42 minor league teams of their affiliate status after the current contract between the majors and minors expires after the 2020 season.

Per Sports Illustrated:

The reduction in the number of affiliates is part of a larger overhaul of the minor league system that would see many franchises reclassify between the Triple A, Double A and Class A levels with the goal of making the individual minor leagues more geographically compact in order to reduce travel time. Teams would be asked to pay a fee to move into a higher level or would be compensated financially for moving from a higher level to a lower one.

Arguably most worrisome for Squirrels fans is the disclosure that stadium quality would play into which teams would keep their current affiliations. “The teams at risk of losing their affiliation are those with facilities MLB has deemed to be sub-standard,” the report says. Could the Diamond, which has been seen as substandard and in need of major repairs or outright replacement by local officials for more than a decade, cause the Richmond Flying Squirrels to lose their status? It’s too early to say. There are no current plans to replace the stadium, although the area surrounding the Diamond will likely soon be redeveloped by VCU.

The report goes on to say that the leagues that are stripped of their affiliations wouldn’t lose baseball entirely:

Franchises stripped of their affiliation would not be left without baseball entirely, though. The plan, which also includes reducing the MLB draft from 40 rounds to as few as 20, calls for the creation of a “Dream League” for undrafted players seeking to land a contract with an MLB team. Dream League teams would be owned jointly by MLB and MiLB. Other former affiliate clubs would operate teams in an MLB-associated collegiate wood-bat league.

We’ll continue to follow this story as new details emerge and any local impacts are known.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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VCU Ram Attendance Capped at 250

VCU Athletics will begin basketball season with a capacity of 250 spectators inside the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

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VCU Athletics issued this statement earlier today.

VCU Athletics will begin basketball season with a capacity of 250 spectators inside the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Tuesday’s capacity adjustment was made in accordance with new COVID-19 safety guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia, announced last week.

Should the State issue new guidance in the future, VCU Athletics will adjust accordingly.

A limited number of tickets will be made available to VCU students and guests of student-athletes. Approximately 175 seats will be reserved for season ticket holders. VCU Athletics will determine access to season tickets based on giving level and rank within each giving level, consistent with the Seat Equity model. VCU Athletics has created protocols to make unused tickets available to Ram Athletic Fund members on a single-game basis.

Season ticket holders will receive notice by Wednesday, Nov. 18 if they qualify for the new limited capacity model. Ticket holders who do not meet the limited capacity qualifications will have a variety of options, including the ability to transfer their season ticket donation to a Ram Athletic Fund gift for 2021-22 or a refund.

“We regret that we cannot have our usual full capacity to start the men’s basketball season,” McLaughlin said. “Our loyal, dedicated fans make our home games the best environment in college basketball and we will miss everyone who cannot attend in person. We will continue to work with all parties in an effort to maximize capacity beyond the current guidelines as the season progresses.”

VCU Athletics will limit seating to the arena bowl in a socially-distanced manner, with a buffer zone around the court to prevent contact between fans and participants. Courtside seating and the Tommy J. West Club will be closed. Ticket holders in those areas will have the opportunity to sit in the bowl area.

We here at RVAHub are in communication with the Rams and are hoping to have a photographer at the game but that isn’t confirmed yet.

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Photos: Surfing Z Dam

Floodwaters bring out the skilled river riders to take to the waves at Z Dam. These photos were shot Saturday afternoon.

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Kickers

Offseason Changes Begin Early for Richmond Kickers as President Matt Spear Steps Down

Matt Spear joined the Kickers in January of 2019 as part of 22 Holdings took over the club. Rob Ukrop also part of 22 Holdings reamins

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The Richmond Kickers announced this morning that President Matt Spear will be leaving the organization to focus on his family.

Full Statement from the Richmond Kickers.

Richmond Kickers Pro Soccer President Matt Spear has stepped down from his role to focus on his family. The former sports marketing entrepreneur and college head coach joined the Kickers in January of 2019 as 22 Holdings took over as the new ownership group, and quickly made his mark on the Richmond sports landscape.

“I am so grateful for my experience with the Richmond Kickers,” commented Spear. “Rob Ukrop leads the growing ownership group with the bold transition and new chapter for this special, storied club. My focus and goals started with mission, culture, and community. Success on the field, adding investors, improving the stadium/fan experience and raising the organization’s trajectory follow purpose and people. I have loads of confidence in the tremendous folks at the club such as Darren Sawatzky to push towards deeper impact and great results. And thank you fans and friends in RVA – you are essential elements of the club’s spirit and drive. Go Richmond!”

During Spear’s leadership, the club has crafted a new core mission, vision and principles, built out a strong leadership team with new hires including Sporting Director and Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky, and Vice President of Sales and Operations, Camp Peery. With Spear’s decision-making in 2019, the team improved from a 9th place finish to one win away from the club’s first Final appearance since 2010. Finally, he led the push for the first major renovations at City Stadium since 1994 with nearly $2 million worth of investments over the last 18 months.

“It is a difficult day knowing my long-time friend, Matt Spear, has chosen to leave our organization to focus on his family, but the entire RVA community is thankful for his efforts to unify our community through soccer,” said Rob Ukrop, Kickers Chairman. “Matt has always been a tremendous leader, and his energy and enthusiasm has been contagious for our team both on and off the field. He has helped our club create a solid foundation to continue building on, and we know Matt and [his son] Beck will be back in town to cheer on his beloved Kickers with his many Richmond area friends in the Red Army and beyond.”

The Kickers completed a much improved season this past Saturday. The team finished fourth in the league and just missed out playing in the Championship Game in an abbreviated season.

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