Las Vegas Sun

November 12, 2018

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Construction starts on minor league ballpark in Downtown Summerlin

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An artist’s rendering is displayed during a groundbreaking ceremony for Las Vegas Ballpark, a 10,000-fan capacity baseball stadium and future home of the Las Vegas 51s, in Summerlin Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

Las Vegas Ballpark Groundbreaking

An artist's rendering is displayed during a groundbreaking ceremony for Las Vegas Ballpark, a 10,000-fan capacity baseball stadium and future home of the Las Vegas 51s, in Summerlin Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Launch slideshow »

The Las Vegas Ballpark is expected to open a year from now in Downtown Summerlin.

For now, it’s just a dirt lot across the street from the shops and Red Rock Resort, next to the Golden Knights practice facility City National Arena. Soon, it will be the $150 million home to the Las Vegas 51s and the centerpiece to what could become a vibrant sports mecca.

“A few short years ago, when we made the decision to purchase the team, we had a vision of building a new stadium to anchor our Downtown Summerlin,” said David Weinreb, chief executive officer of Howard Hughes Corp., which purchased 50 percent of the 51s for $16.4 million in March 2017.

“There are other communities around the country that have done this where they brought together a number of sports teams, both professional and minor leagues, and it really works well. Summerlin is really the perfect community to have a Triple-A team,” Weinreb said.

The Howard Hughes Corp. broke ground this morning on the 10,000-seat stadium.

“This place will be the best,” said Don Logan, president of the Las Vegas 51s. “No place is going to be even close.”

Features will include more than 20 luxury suites, party zones and decks, a kids zone and a swimming pool beyond the outfield wall. It’s expected to be ready by early 2019, and Logan said they hope to open it with Big League Weekend in mid-March.

The stadium will be so close to the Golden Knights practice facility, home runs over the left outfield wall may land on the roof.

“We’re thrilled because it’s a part of what we’re about, which is helping to build this great community,” Golden Knights’ President Kerry Bubolz said. “To see another sports-related entity come in to add to what we’re doing with City National Arena is great.”

Like the hockey center, the ballpark will be flanked by the hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars just across Pavilion Center Drive.

“We know the importance of activating spaces and building facilities that bring people together,” said Kevin Orrock, president of Summerlin for Howard Hughes. “How many of us when we were young remember going to a baseball game with our parents? That’s a memory you never forget, and that’s what we want to create in Downtown Summerlin.”

Major League Baseball veteran and former 51s player Shane Victorino now lives in Las Vegas and is excited about what the new stadium may bring.

“The biggest part of this for me is what it does for families,” Victorino said. “It brings a community together. You want a state-of-the-art venue in a beautiful community that creates a family environment that brings people together.”

The 51s have been searching for a new venue for years. At 34-years-old, Cashman Field is the oldest stadium in the Pacific Coast League.

“It is kind of a relief to be honest with you,” Logan said. “We’ve been really close a number of times to having stadium deals, and as I sat up there thinking today, the location is better than anywhere we ever talked about, the design is phenomenal and the technology is going to allow it to function better than most stadiums do.”

Logan cited Cashman Field’s outdated facilities as a major reason why the Los Angeles Dodgers ended their affiliation with the 51s in 2008, instead choosing to send their prospects to a new stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Cashman Field lacks indoor batting cages and other modern features, and their absence is magnified during the blistering Las Vegas summers.

“When I played here, we were out there in the heat, using that one cage that you weren’t sure if it was going to break down on you one day,” said James Loney, who was named a Triple-A all-star while playing for the 51s in 2006.

The 51s current affiliation with the New York Mets expires after this season, and the new facility will be a monstrous bargaining chip for the team.

“We are going to get the pick for once,” Logan said, agreeing that teams will be fighting to have the 51s as an affiliate. “Finally, we won’t have to be the last one standing.”

With the first-place Golden Knights taking the city by storm and the Raiders on the horizon, the 51s hope the stadium helps them ride the wave of momentum for sports in Las Vegas.

“(We hope to) make it one of the most vibrant destinations for residents of the Las Vegas Valley,” Weinreb said. “Before you know it, we’ll be playing ball.”