Las Vegas Ballpark hosted its first Big League Weekend over Saturday and Sunday, earning plenty of praise from Oakland A’s players and front office executives along the way.
In a tradition that resumes this spring, the Las Vegas area will host spring-training exhibitions as part of Big League Weekend. For years, it had involved the Chicago Cubs hosting a weekend of contests at Cashman Field, but Big League Weekend went on hiatus last year as the Las Vegas Aviators (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) worked to finish construction on Las Vegas Ballpark ahead of its debut in April.
Las Vegas Ballpark earned plenty of accolades during its inaugural 2019 season, including our annual Ballpark of the Year award, and games between the A’s and the Cleveland Indians over the weekend put the facility on a bigger stage. As the MLB parent club of the Aviators, the A’s have plenty of familiarity with Las Vegas Ballpark, but the weekend’s games gave many players on the major-league roster their first chance to see the venue. They came away impressed by the quality of facilities that it has to offer, while A’s general manager David Forst praised both Las Vegas Ballpark and the quality of the Aviators operations. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“It’s a great place to play. We had a blast. Played good baseball. We’re all still trying to get ready for the season. To come and take a road trip this early I think is pretty fun,” said Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien, who finished third in American League MVP voting last season. “I’m glad our organization has Vegas, for guys to rehab, guys to come up. It’s just a great setup.”
Forst said he was delighted with the first year of the partnership and is looking forward to building on the successes of last season. The Aviators finished 83-57 to win the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division, and were involved in 44 transactions with the Athletics during the MLB season.
“The relationship with (Aviators president) Don (Logan) and his staff was as good as we expected,” said Forst, Oakland’s general manager since 2015. “To play in front of a packed house, beautiful ballpark like this, weather was actually great, it was a great first year for us. … The facilities underneath the stadium, clubhouse, batting cage. All of that stuff is first rate.”
Big League Weekend was also a success for the Athletics, who won the first game 8-6 before an announced crowd of 8,159 on Saturday and closed the weekend with a dominant performance on Sunday before an announced crowd of 7,521.
This spring will see two Big League Weekends at Las Vegas Ballpark, as the Cubs will face the Cincinnati Reds in a two-game series over Saturday-Sunday, March 7-8. Cubs games at Cashman Field were typically played before big crowds—Big League Weekend contests against the Indians in 2018 drew attendance totals of 10,651 and 10,774—and that trend should continue this spring, adding to a strong weekend when the A’s were in town.
Located in suburban Summerlin, Las Vegas Ballpark certainly proved that it could offer an elevated experience in areas of fan amenities and player facilities when it opened last year. As it enters its second season, the ballpark is earning more exposure through Big League Weekend and is bringing a new era to a spring-training tradition in the process.
Archival photo of Las Vegas Ballpark from 2019 visit.
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