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February 25, 2018

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Ownership change may speed plans for long-sought new home for 51s

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas 51s catcher Kevin Plawecki bats during practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Any kid knows that it’s easier to persuade either your mom or dad to get what you want instead of convincing both.

For the Las Vegas 51s, that childhood concept explains why Howard Hughes Corp.’s recent acquisition of full ownership of the team bodes well for their long-awaited Summerlin stadium project. Plans for a new facility to replace the aging Cashman Field could emerge publicly within the next month, according to multiple sources.

Hughes Corp. purchased 50 percent of the team for $16.4 million in March from previous partner Play Ball Owners Group, a Las Vegas-based investor group. The corporation previously owned the other half of the club in a joint venture with Play Ball.

“Hughes having 100 percent ownership just makes it easier for them to make decisions and move forward,” 51s President and COO Don Logan said.

Hughes Corp., the developer of Summerlin, hopes to move the team to that area of the valley. The corporation can donate the land for the stadium, easing the development of a stadium project that could cost more than $80 million.

“Every stadium project is exceptionally complex, and as a result, sole ownership is a much more efficient approach,” said Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations with Hughes Corp.

The ownership change likely will not result in any organizational changes to the 51s, nor will the corporation plan to significantly upgrade Cashman Field in the interim period before a new stadium can be constructed, Warden said.

“We are focused now on getting the new stadium project underway in Summerlin,” Warden said.

Logan, who met with Hughes Corp. executives this week, said he hopes to have plans for how to proceed with the stadium project in place within the next 30 days.

“The challenge, I think, is that (Hughes) is a multifaceted group. They have a lot of things going on. It’s a multibillion-dollar publicly traded development company,” Logan said.

Cashman Field’s problems as a Triple-A baseball facility are well-documented. Logan points to a dearth of restrooms and concession facilities from the fan perspective. Limited locker-room and weight-room space and a lack of indoor batting cages are just a few of the troubles from a baseball standpoint at the 35-year-old facility.

“Everything about Vegas both as a tourist and a resident — and we speak more to the resident — is top-notch,” Logan said. “It doesn’t make sense for us not to have a state-of-the-art facility from a fan perspective. That’s most important. Secondarily and nearly as important is getting it from a player-development perspective.”

The 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, own a 19-28 record, including a 10-14 home mark, in the Pacific Coast League.

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