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Could New 51s Ballpark Keep MLB Out of Las Vegas?

Las Vegas ballpark rendering

Probably not, but that’s not stopping Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman from raising the issue of a new $150-million Summerlin ballpark for the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) deterring future MLB expansion.

Las Vegas is a very sports-happy market right now, with the Las Vegas Golden Knights (NHL) a huge success, the Oakland Raiders headed to town once a new stadium is complete, and continuing talk of Vegas as a potential NBA market. Even if the NBA doesn’t arrive in Vegas, where would that leave MLB?

MLB does pose some challenges in Vegas. Let’s start with the fact that the Vegas area is a relatively small market with a medium-sized corporate base and an economy that relies on tourists. For the NHL, that works, and the Raiders should do OK with a mix of locals and tourists. But baseball is a hard sport when it comes to tourists, and doing business in Vegas would certainly mean a climate-controlled venue.

As of now, Las Vegas is all in regarding the new 51s ballpark,, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spending $80 million on naming rights for the facility. And while Goodman raises some flags about the new Summerlin ballpark complicating any efforts to attract MLB, she does seem to understand that it’s a long shot at the best. From the Las Vegas Sun:

“I talked to [MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred]] about MLB coming here and getting one of those teams not necessarily doing well at the gate,” she said. “That conversation will carry over.”…

And she’s confident the minor league soccer Las Vegas Lights will be a hit in downtown Las Vegas, eventually graduating to Major League Soccer.

She’s not as optimistic about baseball. One hiccup would be costs associated with expanding the new ballpark.

“Major league baseball is probably the last,” she said.

A bigger hiccup would be MLB owners actually wanting to play out in Summerlin, far from the Strip. But that’s a whole different discussion.

Rendering courtesy HOK.

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