Friday, Feb. 9, 2001 | 11:35 a.m.
It didn't take a brainstorming session for the front office staff of what was then the Las Vegas Stars to come up with a new nickname for the triple-A baseball team.
All they had to do was pick a name that was already in use by a group of season ticket holders that sits down the right-field line.
As evidenced by the badges each of the nine fans wore on chains around their necks, they were the Area 51s.
The team is now known as the 51s.
"They didn't give us any credit for (the name change) but their staff knew all about us," said Cynthia Winzer, a season ticket holder since the team's inception in 1983 and a leader of the Area 51s. "I once told (president and general manager) Donnie Logan to come down and visit us more often, but he hardly ever did."
Many of the team's fans dislike the name change, which was made earlier this winter in preparation for the franchise's first season as the top farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even the Area 51 members aren't all that supportive of the switch.
"It seems kind of corny to me," said John Walley, a local attorney and a card carrying member of the Area 51s. "When I first heard what they did, I said 'Wait a minute, that's our name.' I'm still not all that excited about it."
Winzer agreed, saying "I thought it was kind of stupid" to call the team the 51s. "It's silly, but maybe it'll eventually catch on."
She and the team's other reliable fans may be more up in arms about the increase in price for season tickets.
"It's gotten to be pretty pricey," she said. "It's jumped from $200 to $300 for me, and that's a lot."
When it was suggested to her that the team maybe "owed" the Area 51 members free tickets for the upcoming season, Winzer laughed in agreement.
"That's a wonderful idea," she said.
Walley thought so, too.
"I know for a fact their sales people knew all about us," he said, displaying his Area 51 badge that includes room for a thumb print in the lower right-hand corner. "I haven't bought my (2001) tickets yet, but I guess I will.
"You could say they should give us something, but it doesn't look like they will. That's OK, though, time heals just about everything."