In February 2018, construction began on Las Vegas Ballpark. In April 2019, the Las Vegas Aviators hosted their first game there.
While 14 months is a short amount of time to build a Triple-A stadium, Aviators president Don Logan offers a different perspective.
"It only took 18 years to pull this off."
The Aviators, who began life in 1983 as the Stars and spent 18 seasons as the 51s (2001-18), are the longest-running professional sports franchise in Las Vegas history. Logan started working for the team as an account executive in 1984; he became general manager in 1991 and president in 2000. Shortly thereafter, Logan was involved with the first of what would be many attempts to replace Cashman Field, which, like the team itself, debuted in 1983.
Cashman Field, the former home of Las Vegas Minor League Baseball
"The original [new ballpark] plan was to bring Spring Training to Henderson [Nevada], out by the mall," Logan said, referencing the city located just east of Las Vegas. "The analysis we made back then, the justified and correct analysis, was that we needed a West Coast team involved to make it work. ...The Dodgers were in Florida and the goal originally was to get them to come here. When the Dodgers decided to go to Camelback Ranch [in Arizona], that pretty much scuttled the whole Spring Training talk and that's when it shifted to 'We still need to get a new stadium for the Triple-A club.'"
During this period, Las Vegas' Triple-A team was a Dodgers affiliate and owned by Mandalay Baseball. Mandalay's portfolio at the time included the Dayton Dragons and Frisco RoughRiders, both of which had experienced phenomenal success in new ballparks (the Dragons, who played their first season in 2000, have sold out every game in franchise history.)
"We understood what we could do, but it was just never," Logan said, stopping his thought mid-sentence. "I'll tell you, the mayor of Las Vegas at the time, he gave it lip service, but he wasn't really serious about doing it."
In addition to the proposed Henderson Spring Training site, which would have hosted the Triple-A team during the regular season, Logan said there were "three or four" new ballpark possibilities discussed over the years.
"Luckily, it never happened," he said.
Luckily, because Logan believes that Las Vegas Ballpark was worth the wait. Mandalay Baseball sold the club in 2008 to Stevens Baseball Group, which in turn sold it to the Howard Hughes Corporation in 2013. The Howard Hughes Corporation owns Summerlin, the planned community in which Las Vegas Ballpark is located. Summerlin has become integral to the city's sports scene, with Las Vegas Ballpark sitting adjacent to City National Arena (the practice facility of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights).
"Through it all, we ended up with the best location in southern Nevada," Logan said. "If you had asked me 15 years ago what the best location was for a stadium, I would have said here. Years ago, we worked with HTNB [Architecture] on a matrix, pinpointing the most important elements in doing a stadium. Land cost is No. 1, ingress and egress is No. 2. This is fantastic for that. Compatible uses around it? This is fantastic for that. And we've got the 'it' thing, that this fits what Minor League Baseball's all about. It's about families. Our fans trend to be upper-middle class, educated, family-oriented, so we just nailed it.
"And then we got to go to every other ballpark and steal ideas. Well, not steal, but we saw the best of the best ideas and then we implemented here and we've got all these destinations within the ballpark. We've got the club level. The scoreboard's unbelievable. The seats are unbelievable. The view's unbelievable. It's the best."
Las Vegas Ballpark, located in the planned community of Summerlin.
In 2015, amid increasing criticism of Cashman Field's lack of player and fan amenities, Logan told the Las Vegas-Review Journal that "it's disappointing that Vegas has the worst facility in the league when we have such a great town with the greatest hotels, the greatest dining, the greatest shopping." Despite such sentiment, he'll always treasure the 35 years he spent working at Cashman Field.
"I've probably seen 2,500 games there," he said. "I've driven down that road every day for 35 years. I had my wedding reception there, in the club level. My daughter worked there. She was born when I worked there. So there's a melancholy part of it, but at the end of the day, time moves on."
Through it all, Logan said he never had a doubt that Las Vegas eventually would get the ballpark he feels the city deserves.
"I've been doing this for 36 years," he said. "I'm a lifer. Not afraid to fail, not afraid to hear 'no.' I'm never gonna quit. This just took an accumulation of effort and circumstance. ... We pioneered and really prospered professional sports in this market, and it's a major league market now. The Golden Knights are our neighbors, the Raiders are coming. It's all good, but this is special. This is unique."