Activists hold up a banner in front of City Hall in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 13 to protest a new ballpark in Shockoe Bottom. Historians and community activists argued Monday that the section of Richmond that was home to the city's once-thriving slave-trading center is no place to build a minor league ballpark. (Bob Brown/AP)

A proposal to build a minor-league baseball stadium on the site of large slave market in Richmond, Va., has preservationists busy trying to stop it.

In the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, 40 auctions houses were in operation that sold black men, women and children before and during the Civil War. Most of that history was erased long ago and has been replaced by a vibrant commercial and residential neighborhood. It is the disappearing connections to African American history, even the painful part of slavery, that has led some to push for a public park at the site to commemorate those who were sold at that location.

Some 1,500 signatures were collected on a petition opposing the stadium. Among the signers are Museum of the Confederacy President S. Waite Rawls III and American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar President Christy S. Coleman, according to local news reports.

Historians interested in Virginia’s slave trade say as many as 350,000 slaves were sold in Virginia between 1790 and 1859, and Richmond was the major market for such sales.