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51s Still Pursuing New Ballpark

Las Vegas 51s

As questions linger about Cashman Field‘s viability, the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) say they are pursuing a new ballpark in the region. 

It is well documented that the 51s face many problems at the aging Cashman Field. In January, PCL president Branch Rickey III questioned the future of the ballpark due to its many problems–including large-scale sewage issues and limited player development amenities.

For their part, the 51s have made a few efforts to keep the team in the Las Vegas area, but nothing has ever materialized. Now with several model facilities having emerged in the last few years, team officials say they are visiting other ballparks as they craft a new plan for the 51s.

In terms of facility, private/public funding plans, and surrounding development, Las Vegas has several recent examples to cite as a model. El Paso and Charlotte–which just hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game–have all found success in new ballparks, and other facilities built during the previous decade still continue to attract large crowds.

Using the Charlotte Knights‘ BB&T Ballpark as one of their models, 51s officials say that they see the potential to build a new facility in the Las Vegas region that would attract additional development. Such a plan, however, might require the team to move to a location more accessible than Cashman Field. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“That’s the beauty of this industry is we’re all friends. There’s only 30 of us. We share information about a number of things,” 51s president and COO Don Logan said. “Obviously this is one of the newer stadiums so (we were) talking to (Rajkowski) about what they went through, what works.”

One of the big things that has led to the success of BB&T Ballpark is the location of the park. After the stadium was built, [Knights GM Dan] Rajkowski estimated there were 1,500 apartment units created that were directly associated with the ballpark as the area became even more developed.

The 51s stadium would move the other way — from downtown to the suburbs, with Summerlin as the new park’s location.

“There’s a saying about (how) you have to fish where the fish are,” MILB President and CEO Pat O’Conner said. “You want a place that’s easy to get to, attractive to get to, convenient to get to and in your case in Las Vegas, that’s probably not downtown.”

Logan believes the proposed Summerlin location would have the “nicest compatible uses around the stadium,” in the league as the park would be near restaurants, shopping, movie theaters and the Red Rock Hotel Casino.

The 51s have discussed similar locations in the past. A proposal in Henderson was floated last December, and a previous plan in Summerlin fell through after the City of Las Vegas opted not to contribute to the project.

If the 51s build momentum for their push, it would come at a busy time for sports in Las Vegas. The city is set to receive an expansion NHL franchise for the 2017-2018 season, and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are in serious talks to relocate to Las Vegas.

RELATED STORIES: Rickey: Cashman Field not long-term option for PCL;  Vegas: We’re not paying for new 51s ballpark; Las Vegas: We want to keep 51s; Sale of Las Vegas 51s finalized; new owners pitch Summerlin ballpark; Future of Vegas baseball in Summerlin?; Will new 51s lease yield new Las Vegas ballpark?; Short-term Cashman Field lease approved; future of ballpark still in doubt; Vegas delays 51s lease; future of Cashman Field in doubt

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