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August 20, 2019

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

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This is a major league stadium’: Las Vegas Ballpark a big hit with fans

Las Vegas Ballpark Opens in Summerlin

Steve Marcus

The Las Vegas Aviators take on the Sacramento River Cats during the opening of the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Las Vegas Ballpark Opens in Summerlin

Fans cheer for the Las Vegas Aviators as they take on the Sacramento River Cats during the opening of the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Ken Webb’s silence spoke volumes. He was so impressed with all the bells and whistles of Las Vegas Ballpark that he stood near the outfield concourse taking in the sights in complete awe.

Webb has seen a lot of baseball since moving here in the late 1950s, and yet he’s never quite seen it in a venue like this. Las Vegas Ballpark opened its doors Tuesday for the initial Las Vegas Aviators game, as a sellout crowd of about 10,000 fans got their first look at the $150 million Triple-A facility in the Downtown Summerlin.

Many congregated outside until the gates opened about 90 minutes before the first pitch, anxiously waiting for a first glimpse at the modern facility. Fans walked around the stadium taking photos — of the outfield pool, massive scoreboard and mesh seating.

They cherished their part on this historic evening, when many left after a few innings because of high winds. Yet the game, in which the Aviators beat Sacramento 12-2, was only half of the attraction. Seeing the stadium was paramount.

“Just wow. This is a major league stadium,” Webb said.

This wasn’t the first time Webb attended a stadium debut.

He also took in the first game at Cashman Field in 1983 in downtown Las Vegas, where professional baseball was played for three decades before the team's much-anticipated move to Summerlin. Cashman Field was one of the oldest minor league stadiums and lacked fan and player amenities. Batting cages are no longer outside and in the parking lot for the players, and there’s a pool and splash pad in the outfield party area for fans. (Yep, let’s mention the pool twice, because it is that awesome.)

Click to enlarge photo

Ken Webb and his daughter Becca Dadlaney wait for the start of the game during the opening of the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Webb went to the first and last game at Cashman Field.

“If you can dream it, you can build it in Las Vegas,” Gov. Steve Sisolak told the crowd in the pregame ceremony.

Webb and his daughter, Becca Dadlaney, spend much of their father-daughter time going to baseball games. It’s more than a passion — it’s an obsession.

Not only did Webb attend the first game at Cashman Field, he also attended the final game there last September. And before Cashman Field was constructed, he played baseball for Rancho High at the original Cashman Field on Las Vegas Boulevard and Bonanza Road.

“Those fences were just 4 feet high. You couldn’t help hitting a few home runs,” Webb said.

When tickets for Tuesday’s game sold out within minutes of going on sale, and the cheapest ticket on secondary sites was $140, Dadlaney had to get creative to make sure her dad could witness the historic event. He couldn’t miss it, she reasoned.

She wrote a letter to Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, a former Las Vegas minor leaguer in the franchise’s early years and who was instrumental in moving the team to Summerlin, asking for help. Brown was able to secure two tickets, free of charge.

They weren’t the only father and daughter who attended Tuesday’s game, and surely won’t be the last. One of the beauties of sports is getting to watch with loved ones. Those outings aren’t necessarily about the result, or the elements during the game (that darn wind). Rather, it is about spending time together enjoying a night of recreation.

With Las Vegas Ballpark, those nights will surely be more enjoyable. The stadium, as expected, is a great addition to our city. It was everything officials promised it would be.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21