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Baseball pitch gets a little marketing love

Brandy Brubaker November 30, 2013 6
Loving RVA posters are popping up in Shockoe Bottom storefronts. (Photos by Michael Schwartz)

Loving RVA posters are popping up in Shockoe Bottom storefronts. (Photos by Michael Schwartz)

When Mayor Dwight Jones was ready to make public his plan for a ballpark development in Shockoe Bottom, some local groups wanted to inject a little love into the pitch.

The result was “Loving RVA,” a marketing campaign designed to rally Richmond around the mayor’s proposal, which that he says will bring economic development – and baseball – to Shockoe Bottom.

Behind the campaign are Venture Richmond and the Greater Richmond Chamber, which enlisted local PR agency Alliance Group, said Jack Berry, executive director of Venture Richmond.

The campaign’s logo is a red heart that says “Loving RVA Starts Downtown.” Organizers have printed fliers with the layout of the proposed project and stickers with the heart design. There’s also a website called LovingRVA.com.

The campaign was on full view at Jones's Nov. 11 press conference.

The Loving RVA campaign was on full view at Jones’s Nov. 11 press conference.

The initial push was hard to miss at the mayor’s Nov. 11 press conference announcing the proposal, where heart-laden posters, stickers, and T-shirts could be seen throughout the crowd. Jones wore a Loving RVA sticker on his lapel. Developer Brian White, whose firm will play a major role in the project, wore a Loving RVA T-shirt.

Berry explained the motto: “It is a play on the word Loving, which refers to the name of the family which has owned much of the Shockoe site for many years, and it expresses our love for RVA and our optimism about its future,” he said.

The Loving family owns Loving’s Produce and about a dozen properties in the Bottom around 17th, 18th, Franklin and Grace streets that would eventually make way for the ballpark village development.

The plan includes a $200-million-plus ballpark village development. In addition to a new playing field for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the project would include 750 apartments, a hotel, a grocery store and a slavery museum site.

Leslie Bruno, director of marketing for the Greater Richmond Chamber, said the Loving RVA campaign is designed to be educational. They want business owners and downtown residents and workers to know exactly what is planned and how it will benefit the city.

Berry said the campaign is expected to cost between $15,000 and $20,000 for expenses such as the website, stickers, fliers and T-shirts. The group plans to cover those expenses with donations from local business leaders who support the project.

Alliance Group will be paid for its services on the campaign, said Rob Jones, the firm’s owner and chief executive.

No city money is being used to fund the campaign, said Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s spokesperson.

Andy Poarch, vice president of communications at Alliance Group, said the firm is happy to be involved.

“I think it shows there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from folks who want to live, work and play downtown,” Poarch said.

Hawley said the mayor’s revitalization plan is complex, so public education is important.

“While we are working to educate the public through the traditional government platforms, the Loving RVA campaign is also an educational effort to inform the public about the plan and we welcome that support,” Hawley said.

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6 Comments »

  1. T Brown December 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    How about a piece on the organizations opposing the plan? Some discussion of the ethics of Venture Richmond launching a $20,000 PR campaign in an attempt to create the illusion of broad support for a plan that was decided without any public input & is opposed by a majority in public polls I’ve seen.

  2. Jim Meisner Jr. December 2, 2013 at 11:00 am - Reply

    “The plan includes a $200-million-plus ballpark village development. In addition to a new playing field for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the project would include 750 apartments, a hotel, a grocery store and a slavery museum site.”

    . . . and yet my understanding is the only way the plan is financially feasible, the ONLY way the plan can make money and not cost the city, is if the current ballpark site on Boulevard is ALSO developed.

    The downtown option seems like a solution in search of a problem.

  3. Brian Glass December 2, 2013 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Here are two questions to ponder:

    1. Would the plan for apartments, a hotel, some retail and a parking deck work without a baseball stadium? The cost would be far less and the stadium risk would disappear.

    2. Has anyone thought about what will happen 30 years from now when a baseball stadium , in a bowl, in the bottom is functionally obsolete and has to be replaced? ( the Diamond will be 30 in 2015).What will that cost be when demolition takes place surrounded by a hotel, apartments, and a parking deck? What would replace the stadium?

  4. Neal Holsapple December 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Another case of “build it and they will come”. Simply the “mayor” attempting to put his “mark” on Richmond. The convention center isn’t even meeting expectations right? So, what are the chances a baseball stadium is going to make it ???

    Wow – must be nice spending others money like that.

  5. Matt Dolan December 3, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

    This is the first article I’ve read that did not focus on opposition to this sorely needed revitalization project. I’m mainly referring to stuff I’ve read in the Times Dispatch.

    Shockoe Bottom is long overdue for a revitalization plan as laid forth at lovingRVA.com. Is difficult to witness similar sized cities throughout the country create attractive, fun city centers (many of which have downtown sports arenas as centerpieces) while Richmond resists progress and change. So to finally see a revitalization plan as exciting and transformational as this, if executed, is wonderful for the future of Richmond.

    Additionally, this plan opens up Boulevard for retail development which would pull in much tax dollars for the city which is key as well.

    This plan aims to make Richmond a more prosperous city with an attractive urban core, which is why it is so important to educate the public at lovingRVA.com. I have no affiliation to Venture Richmond though applaud them in their efforts to improve downtown Richmond.

  6. Nickel Tex December 3, 2013 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Why oh why do we have to continue to beat on this baseball stadium? There are so many other ways to redevelop the area- and yet those in favor seem obsessed with the idea of a baseball stadium.

    What a waste of time and money, and a huge waste of space. The city could be focusing the money to spend towards Civil War historical sites, something which tourist actually visit Richmond for, but instead they’re wasting all our time on a grand dumb plan.

    Which is probably why it will happen.

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