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Milam buys 51s; team will be part of new development

New Las Vegas

The Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have been sold to developer Chris Milam, who plans on installing the team in a new $1.95-billion sports complex he’s planning opposite Mandalay Bay on the south end of the Strip.

Milam heads International Development Management and is working with the city of Las Vegas and Cordish on a development that includes a new 17,500-seat arena potentially housing an NBA or NHL team, a 36,000-seat stadium for Major League Soccer (expandable to 50,000 for special events) and a 9,000-seat ballpark that can be expanded to an MLB-level ballpark (with 36,000 seats should a team move to Vegas. We covered the development here.

It’s a complicated plan, to be sure: IDM first needs to acquire the land and then work out a financing plan. IDM is a long ways from breaking ground on a new ballpark to replace Cashman Field, and the Vegas sporting scene is surprisingly complicated: Caesar’s is working on one arena plan, while Majestic Realty and Ed Roski are negotiating with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas on another arena/stadium project. To IDM’s credit, they’ve changed their plan over time to acknowledge market realities: the orignal plan to place an arena on the Strip was scrapped, and the original plan to house UNLV teams at the new development has been suspended in favor of MLS and the potential of an NBA or NHL tenant. The arena, should pieces fall into place, could open as soon as 2013, the ballpark and soccer stadium in 2014. The stadium and ballpark would be semi-enclosed to provide spectators relief from the hot Vegas summer sun.

“We couldn’t be more excited about reaching an agreement to acquire the Las Vegas 51s,” said Milam in a statement. “Acquiring this franchise is an important step in the creation of the Las Vegas National Sports Center, which will be the new home of the 51s as well as allow for the expansion of professional sports into the Las Vegas market.”

No official word on the selling price: sources told the local newspaper the team sold for more than $20 million, but baseball insiders we consulted were a little skeptical of that figure, saying the $16 million-$17 million price range was perhaps more realistic. No one — the Pacific Coast League, Minor League Baseball or Major League Baseball — has signed off on the deal.

RELATED STORIES: Stakes high for 51s in Vegas stadium site; IDM pitches new Vegas ballpark as part of larger development


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