Chesterfield Opens the Diamonds at Iron Bridge, a Jewel of a Facility for Residents and Visitors

After several months of meticulous work transforming six existing fields at Harry G. Daniel Park into Chesterfield’s first destination softball/baseball complex, the county officially opened The Diamonds at Iron Bridge during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon. 

“The partnership between our Parks and Recreation and Sports, Visitation and Entertainment teams made this day possible,” said Matt Harris, deputy county administrator for finance and administration. “If you could’ve seen what this place looked like even six months ago, you wouldn’t believe the progress that has been made. I’ve had a chance to come by a number of times over the last several weeks. Nights, weekends, early mornings … you name it, they’ve been out here working hard on this.” 

Extensive renovations began last fall at Daniel Park, shortly after the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors approved the use of $4.1 million in surplus transient lodging tax revenue to fund the following improvements:

  • Regrading playing surfaces to improve drainage and consistency, with new infield material, irrigation and sod
  • Replacing all outfield fencing and utilizing temporary fencing for field setup flexibility
  • Installing new backstops and dugouts and improved spectator seating
  • Creating a championship field with covered spectator seating and an enclosed press box for high-profile games, tournaments and events
  • Providing shade and other aesthetic amenities in the site’s existing common areas
  • Repaving and striping the parking lot

“Chesterfield is always looking for creative, innovative and budget-conscious ways to improve quality of life for our residents, while also providing tourists the opportunity to discover all the county has to offer,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Holland, who threw out the first pitch as part of Friday’s ceremony. “I thank our staff for their extraordinary efforts in giving these fields a massive makeover while being mindful of the resources we have available.”

Building a six-field, tournament-quality facility from scratch would’ve cost about $50 million, but The Diamonds at Iron Bridge accomplishes Chesterfield’s objectives at a fraction of the cost. 

“We want to have first-class quality of life amenities in our park system,” said Neil Luther, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. “The beauty of this is it was done with dollars that were generated from lodging taxes. There were no Chesterfield County taxpayer dollars put into the renovations you see.” 

Paired with six additional fields at the nearby Bird Athletic Complex, as well as future improvements planned at Horner Park and other fields across the county, Chesterfield is focused on establishing itself as a hub for fastpitch softball and baseball in the mid-Atlantic region.

Chesterfield’s diamond sports schedule for calendar year 2024 features 24 consecutive weekends of tournaments through Nov. 16. That includes the 60-team softball tournament at The Diamonds at Iron Bridge that began Friday afternoon.

Tournament Director Tom Bunn expects to have more than 40 college coaches in attendance this weekend, which is the start of the NCAA’s summer recruiting period for Division I softball. Among them, coaches from Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Liberty, James Madison and George Mason. 

“I really appreciate Chesterfield County making this investment in our female student-athletes,” Bunn said. “I’ve been doing this for about 20 years and have seen not just the growth in quality of softball in the Richmond area, but the quantity of tournaments and what softball brings to the community. I think you’ll see there will be more and more quality tournaments coming here.”

Not only does visitor spending from such events help diversify the local economy, it drives tax revenue that can then be used to upgrade the quality of the athletic facilities used by county residents throughout the week.

“Athletes and their families will be staying at our hotels. They’ll be eating in our restaurants, shopping in our stores and generating tax dollars that will be reinvested right back into facility improvements like you see here,” Holland said.

Luther noted The Diamonds at Iron Bridge project isn’t finished yet – a permanent restroom facility and the championship stadium enhancements still need to be constructed – but said all six fields are “beautiful” and “ready for play.” 

“It’s a fairly elaborate orchestra to finish a field complex like this when you’re working with Mother Nature, grass growing constraints, contractors and all those variables,” he added. “This has been a collective effort to get it done on a tight turnaround.”