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May 25, 2015

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New Las Vegas 51s owners plan to build ‘finest Triple-A facility in the country’

Owners looking for public money for Summerlin village that would include shopping and dining

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Steve Marcus

Don Logan, left, executive vice president of the Las Vegas 51s, and investor Steve Mack leave a news conference at Cashman Field after a deal was finalized to buy the Las Vegas 51s on Monday, May 13, 2013. Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of the Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group — including investors Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer — purchased the 51s and plans to move the franchise to a new stadium in Summerlin.

Las Vegas 51s Sold to Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club

Investor Steve Mack speaks to reporters during a news conference at Cashman Field after a deal was finalized to buy the Las Vegas 51s on Monday, May 13, 2013. Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of the Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group — including investors Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer — purchased the 51s and plans to move the franchise to a new stadium in Summerlin. Launch slideshow »

This stadium proposal could be different.

That’s the message Don Logan, the Las Vegas 51s executive vice president and the longtime face of the Triple-A franchise, delivered Monday when talking about the chances of the 51s moving from rundown Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas to a new facility in Summerlin.

Logan has been with the club for 30 years and is one of the most influential players on the local sports scene. When it comes to stadium proposals for the 51s, he’s seen them all. And they’ve all failed.

Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group — including investors Steve Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer — are confident their plans will work out differently.

They purchased the franchise Monday for $20 million from Stevens Baseball Group, promising to build a stadium in Summerlin — near the Red Rock Resort at Charleston Boulevard and the 215 Beltway — that will become one of area's focal points. They envision giving the community a baseball team they can be proud of, starting with a new state-of-the-art stadium.

“It is a new beginning for the franchise,” Logan said. “Having people like Steve (Mack) and the local investors, and a company like Howard Hughes, it is unprecedented in this franchise’s history. It sets the stage for some big things going forward.”

Logan expressed similar optimism in the mid- to late 1990s about plans to build in Henderson near Russell Road and U.S. 95, but those plans fell through late. Other ideas haven’t gotten out of the batter’s box.

Mack plans on hitting a home run.

“I want everyone to know buying the team was bringing the team back to the people (of Las Vegas),” said Mack, who made his fortune as a pawnbroker with SuperPawn, which he sold in 2004.

“I don’t think we really have reached into the city’s potential of having a sports team, where everyone is wearing a hat, everyone is getting behind it and finding our sports soul. We can initiate something with this launch, something bigger and better.”

Something bigger and better is still very much a work in progress.

The 16-20 acres of land the stadium is proposed for will be donated by Howard Hughes Corp. and is valued at $40 million, Mack said. The stadium will seat about 8,000 to 9,000 and will be the centerpiece of a village that includes restaurants, shops and plenty of entertainment options for fans before and after games.

“We are going to have 140 stores and 17 restaurants just in the retail side, and that’s not even the amenities at the stadium,” Mack said.

Mack said the project would cost about $60 million. The group’s plan is for it to be a partnership among Las Vegas, Clark County and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, hoping to secure bonds to partially pay for the project. Since they just became owners, talk with those officials still have to be arranged. The land is part of the county, mere feet from the Las Vegas boundary.

Mack isn’t naive to the fact that some in the community argue public funds shouldn’t be used to build a facility. It’s the same argument in any city where owners are trying to erect a stadium.

He plans on winning public support and, more important, support of officials.

“The big hurdle will be talking with three municipalities and getting them on board,” Mack said. “We have to quantify the benefits for everybody. When we have a chance to articulate and explain — we are going to be completely transparent — people are going to see there are so many benefits for the city, the county and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. It makes complete sense.”

But what about traffic and parking? That’s one of the biggest concerns of residents in the area.

“It’s logical to be concerned about traffic and parking,” said Mack, a Summerlin resident. “We are focused on listening to the community and finding out more about their concerns. I live in the area and I’m concerned, too. However, this site couldn’t be more appropriate.”

Mack spoke with reporters Monday on the concourse level at Cashman Field, which overlooks home plate and is easily the best fan-amenity at the facility. It’s one of the lone perks of the facility that is the 27th oldest out of 30 Triple-A ballparks.

The new stadium, which if everything goes according to plan would be ready for the 2015 season, won’t be short on attractions.

“The goal of our entire group is to make it the finest Triple-A facility in the country,” Logan said. “It won’t lack any amenities. The food amenities. The fan amenities. The kid amenities. Upscale. Mid-scale. You have to try to appeal to everybody, and that is what we are trying to do.”

And, of course, there are player amenities.

The current setup at Cashman Field lacks rehabilitation equipment and other necessities such as indoor batting cages. Not only are the cages outside, they are also in the parking lot.

“We are the worst in baseball,” Logan said. “That is why the Dodgers left.” (The Dodgers didn’t renew the player development agreement in 2008.)

But Las Vegas might not be the worst for long. That’s something Logan feels confident about because of the new ownership.

“(The ownership group) came at us with an idea,” Logan said. “(The stadium) would be a nice amenity, a nice attraction to something that is going to be great anyway. They had to have the desire to do this, and they did. They put their money where their mouth was, and now we have to make it work.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or ray.brewer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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