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Short-term Cashman Field lease approved; future of ballpark still in doubt

Las Vegas 51sThe Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved a four-year lease extension for Cashman Field, as the board was unwilling to tie up the home of the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in a long-term deal.

Stars Las Vegas LLC (the current owner of the 51s) and Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC (a joint venture between Howard Hughes Corp. and Steven Mack, which is working on buying the team) were seeking a 10-year lease extension for the ballpark. But authority members were unwilling to commit to a long lease when the 57-acre plot containing Cashman Field, a convention center and a sea of parking is eyed for potential redevelopment. Ten members of the authority voted for the four-year extension; three members, including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, voted against the deal because it ties up the site with a tenant.

It’s no secret former owners of the 51s have looked for replacement for Cashman Field: once one of the better facilities in the PCL, it’s now one of the worst. It’s why the 51s are traditionally the last choice for MLB seeking an affiliate; when the Mets and the 51s announced a new player-development contract for 2013-2014, 51s officials openly apologized for the Cashman Field conditions.

Now, having a 10-year lease extension (as proposed by the team) doesn’t necessarily bind the 51s to Cashman Field for a decade: the team has a clause where it could leave the ballpark with adequate notice, and that clause is in the extension. But a 10-year lease would mean the authority is required to build a new ballpark for the 51s should the Cashman complex be redeveloped. And that’s the crux here: with a short-term deal, the authority could take its time redeveloping the area (the city has requested proposals from developers) and leave the 51s high and dry at the end of the lease. Still, we’re talking about a timeline that gives both sides plenty of time to plan: this extension runs through Dec. 31, 2022, and we’d be very surprised if we revisit the issue in a decade and find the 51s are still playing at Cashman Field in its current condition: something will happen on the development front, and a smart redevelopment plan will surely include a new ballpark somewhere in the downtown area.

RELATED STORIES: Vegas delays 51s lease; future of Cashman Field in doubt


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