By Patty Fantasia
The popular song Take Me Out to the Ball Game would have provided perfect background music on Saturday, December 8, 2018 when the former Las Vegas 51s officially announced their new name the Las Vegas Aviators along with unveiling their logo for the city’s professional Triple-A baseball team in Downtown Summerlin at a special event hosted by the Howard Hughes Corporation.
The name change followed the team’s announcement in September of its new two-year Player Development Contract with the Oakland A’s well in advance of the April 2019 completion of the Las Vegas Ballpark, which will be a new state-of-the-art Triple-A stadium serving as the home of the Pacific Coast League team.. The name, the Las Vegas Aviators, was selected from submissions made by the general public via a competition inviting the community to participate in the process.
Dignitaries and fans gathered at the stage in front of the Las Vegas Ballpark Office as Howard Hughes Vice President, Community and Government Relations Tom Warden welcomed the crowd of nearly 2000 guests including representatives from Minor League Baseball, former Major League players residing in Las Vegas and season ticket holders, community leaders and several little leaguers from all over Las Vegas. He then turned the podium over to Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority CEO Steve Hill, who commented on how excited he is seeing the progress that’s been made on the new stadium. Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Connor joined the festivities by video talking about how thrilled he was to have been part of the February 23rd groundbreaking of the ballpark in person and how happy he was to be a part of this ceremony citing the strong sign of ownership and community that will be associated with the team’s new name and logo.
Next at the podium was Pacific Coast League President Branch Ricky, who is living baseball royalty as the grandson of the legendary player and sports executive Branch Rickey. He stated that baseball is in his blood and shared how much he enjoyed attending events like these including braving the cold during last February’s groundbreaking. He went on to say that there is no doubt that we are on the cusp of a new era for baseball congratulating the Howard Hughes Corporation, the city of Las Vegas and Dan Logan and his staff. “Mr. Baseball” and executive of the year Don Logan, who is now the President-COO of the Las Vegas Aviators, took the stage next speaking about how baseball is succeeding here in Las Vegas and the huge leap of faith taken by the league to acquire major league talent and construct a major league venue reinforcing its commitment to Summerlin...
The final speaker, Howard Hughes Corporation CEO David Weinreb spoke about celebrating another milestone for Summerlin with the announcement of the team’s new name and logo. Before making the official reveal to the crowd he talked about the Las Vegas Legend, film mogul and aviation enthusiast Howard Hughes and how he influenced gaming and real estate and changed Las Vegas and Summerlin with his vision. “Summerlin wouldn’t have existed without his foresight in purchasing this land,” Weinreb said.
Prior to the afternoon’s festivities media tours were given at the actual construction site across from Downtown Summerlin where specifics of the new ballpark were divulged by members of the development team charged with building the facility. Among those on hand was Pat Delano, who serves as Project Executive for The Hunt-Penta joint venture and Anton Foss, the Managing Principal from the HOK’s San Francisco office. Currently, there is a 275 member crew working seven days a week with double shifts running on five of those so it will be ready for the Aviators’ April 9th home opener. With a seating capacity of 10,000, there are several extras and design features guaranteeing its debut as a first class venue. The park’s video board, at 3,900 sf, will be the 23rd largest in baseball. The field dimensions will be with 340 feet ondown the line, a 380 385 foot power alleys and 405 feet in to center field. Five main sponsors will share space on a sponsorship wall and there will be a hospitality suite available for rent. The park also boosts 400 club seats, a party deck with strip views and offices, conference rooms and a commissary kitchen on the premises. Perhaps the jewel in the crown however is a pool bar party suite that can house 50 guests with 20 stools and a splash pad behind it for the youngsters.
The park will also feature real grass, which is currently growing in Arizona and should be ready for sod the first or second week of March and full Wi-Fi capabilities including a distributed antenna system network with over 200 access points to accommodate streaming and broadcast needs.
According to Foss the park has the feel of Red Rock and Summerlin, but with a Las Vegas twist that includes 22 suites on the 3rd base side featuring a view of the strip at night. There will also be an emphasis on entertainment as well as sports. “It’s part of Summerlin and unique to Summerlin,” he said. A native of Seattle, this project has been an enjoyable one for Foss who is an avid baseball fan. He spent years in Kansas City and has fond memories of taking his son to the Royals’ games. However, the new ballpark in Las Vegas has been a labor of love he has been a part of for the past two years and as it takes shape he has great pride in both its uniqueness and its character which he can’t wait to show off to the fans on opening day.