The Richmond Democratic Socialists of America is opposed to Mayor Stoney’s proposal for a new Coliseum and redevelopment of the Navy Hill area. The Richmond DSA believes that any commission created by City Council to assess the viability of such a project will reach the conclusion that the project is intended to further enrich elites like Dominion CEO Tom Farrell and to advance the political career of Mayor Stoney.
The Richmond Coliseum is already the busiest such arena in the state, and the notion that replacing it will somehow address Richmond’s worst problems, such as poverty and the underfunding of our school system, is a farce. As the Richmond Free Press has reported, building a new coliseum would cost the city 20 million a year, while currently the city spends 1.5 million a year maintaining the existing facility.
If the mayor were seriously interested in changing the status quo of endemic poverty and underfunded schools, he would be advancing plans made with advocates for the community, not with the likes of Farrell. The mayor’s plan is entirely contingent on projections of growth and commercial success, and history shows that revenue from such public-private partnerships is far from guaranteed. Often the city loses money in such arrangements.
The Richmond DSA believes that there’s no time to waste in addressing the problems of poverty and underfunded schools in Richmond, but waiting for money that might never arrive is exactly what the mayor’s coliseum project asks us to do. As the Richmond for All coalition statement asserts, “Richmond’s spending priorities show unconscionable apathy to people most reliant on even basic services.”
The Richmond DSA, along with the seventeen other cosigners of the Richmond for All resolution, attended City Council on December 17, 2018 to declare their dissatisfaction with the lack of money for schools and other essential services, yet, when wealthy donors like Farrell propose a high cost / low return project like the coliseum redevelopment, tens of millions dollars are suddenly on the table.
The Richmond DSA announces its rejection of the mayor’s proposal, and suggests that if our city council decides to create a commission to examine this project, it be comprised of working class community members who would be most affected by the project, not the wealthy donor class. It would be more prudent, however, to reject the project outright, and for the council to move on to more pressing issues.