It appears that the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast) are closer to the end of their run at Cashman Field. Late last month, the team broke ground on the new Las Vegas Ballpark—a facility in Downtown Summerlin that is projected to open for the 2019 season.
As construction on that facility moves forward, time will wind down on the 51s’ days at Cashman Field. Over the last several years, the ballpark has been subject to criticism over the quality of its facilities, and the 51s have been working to find a replacement. While the upcoming change in venues will give the 51s better offerings for fans and players alike, it is worth reflecting on the unique history that Cashman Stadium has built.
Cashman Field originally opened in 1983, with the Las Vegas Stars (now the 51s) serving as its first full-time tenant. However, it was with a major league game that Cashman Field made its professional debut, as it hosted an April 1 exhibition game between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres—the parent club of the Stars. A reported total of 13,878 fans turned out for that game, beginning what has emerged as an interesting link between Cashman Field and MLB.
Numerous exhibition games have been played at the ballpark, a trend that continues in the present with the annual Big League Weekend that is held every spring. The 2018 edition—featuring the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians—will begin Saturday. For several years, Cashman Field was used as the site of the Big League Challenge, a preseason home run derby event that featured some of MLB’s best sluggers over the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Most notably, however, Cashman Field was used as a temporary venue by the Oakland A’s in 1996. With renovations unfolding at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the A’s were unable to play early-season games at their home ballpark. Cashman Field stepped up to fill the void, hosting the A’s for their first six games of the regular season. Starting with their Opening Day loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the A’s went 2-4 over that stretch, beginning what would ultimately be a 78-84 season.
Of course, Cashman Field has accumulated plenty of memories at the minor league level. The Stars won league titles in 1986 and 1988, and the franchise has amassed a notable list of players that went on to have productive major league careers. (Roberto Alomar suited up for a brief stint in 1988, and Noah Syndergaard is among the club’s active alumni.) The ballpark was also the site of the Triple-A World Series from 1998-2000.
For 2018, Cashman Field is beginning a new era as it hosts both the 51s and professional soccer’s Las Vegas Lights FC. The upstart USL club agreed to a 15-year lease last year and is beginning play this spring, meaning that it should give Cashman Field a use beyond baseball.
Time will tell both the statuses of the new 51s ballpark, and Cashman Field, the facility they find themselves closer to leaving. What is undeniable, however, is that Cashman Field has had a unique run over its history.
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