Richmond finds team to replace Braves

It took a year, but Richmond finally has a replacement for the Gwinnett Braves. The long-rumored move of a Class AA Eastern League team to the Virginia capital became official on Wednesday.

The Connecticut franchise will relocate to Richmond in 2010 and will play at least two seasons at The Diamond while talks continue about a new ballpark.

It was the lack of any progress in replacing the outdated stadium that caused the Atlanta Braves to relocate their Class AAA team to Gwinnett this year after 43 seasons in Richmond.

Richmond was at the bottom of attendance in the International League with a draw of 289,570 in 2008, but that would rank in the middle of the Eastern League. Connecticut, located in Norwich, drew 203,005 this season.

The new Richmond team will be affiliated with San Francisco and a contest will be held to pick a nickname. Chuck Domino has relinquished his presidency of the Lehigh Valley and Reading franchises in the Philadelphia organization to run the new team.

Approximately $1.5 million in improvements to The Diamond are planned by the team, including new seats and a modern video board.

The Eastern League has 12 teams stretching from Maine to Ohio. Richmond will be the only team south of Pennsylvania.

Gwinnett drew 423,556 in its first season and the G-Braves made the Governors' Cup playoffs as the wild-card team after finishing two games behind Durham in the IL's South Division. The Bulls went on to claim the Class AAA championship.