By Raymond Rolak
The Las Vegas Aviators Open Brand New Las Vegas Ballpark
Summerlin-- There is a new destination to see and enjoy in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Aviators have opened their new 10,000 plus seat stadium. Also, they have jumped off to a great start in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and are in first place in their division. In their second home game of the season, and on a warm balmy night, perfect for baseball, the crowd got a great show. The volatile winds from the night before had left the area and Finn, the bat-dog, was energized and very much part of the show.
Las Vegas Aviators Large Logo Display
The national anthem was performed by the children’s choir of the John C. Boss School of Clark County School District and they nailed it.
Don Logan, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Aviators should be proud of his vision and accomplishments. He was the driving force to get the state-of-art stadium built.
It had an overall cost of about 150 million. Before the home opener he had said, “This day was long coming and a true celebration for our entire community.”
Las Vegas Aviators mascot Finn, The Bat Dog
On first impressions, the all-important concessions look very-very attractive and savory but come prepared, they have major league prices. The Aviators have put an incredible amount of energy focusing on the fan experience. Professional Sports Catering, the team’s food and beverage provider has an impressive selection of unique dining options.
I urge the organization to reexamine the price structure of the specialty food offerings and offer more low-cost selections. Just a soft FYI, make the baseball experience affordable for families and do not become just another corporate ticket, as with the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The strategic plan for continued baseball success in Summerlin depends on repeat customers.
Baseball cannot grow if you do not include the Father and Son, Mother and Daughter experience-quotient. Dinnertime will be taken up with travel-time, just to get downtown Summerlin. For night games, folks will come hungry and the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club, LLC, a subsidiary of the Howard Hughes Corporation can still make a reasonable profit with some reasonably priced and healthy concession offerings.
Also, some BOGO games (buy one ticket, get one free) would get a great reception from families.
Plan to arrive extra early at Las Vegas Ballpark to get the limited free parking. The just over 10,000-fan-capacity stadium has plenty of extra options and amenities. They include 22 suites, party zones, picnic areas, berm seating and even a large pool area beyond the centerfield wall.
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Ricky Henderson, and a roving instructor for the Oakland A's was all eyes on the Aviator player-prospects - Photo credit: Bob Flowers
By-the-way, the expansive pool area will rent out for about $2K a night in the summertime.
Eventually, a 14-story, 267-room hotel and upscale neighborhood will be developed just south of Las Vegas Ballpark.
Las Vegas is playing in their 37th Pacific Coast League season. True to the long-standing Las Vegas tradition of more is better and over-the-top entertainment promotions, the Aviators offer two mascots. The new mascots are Spruce (an overgrown goose) and Mr. Aviator (a super-hero). In a short time they have proved very popular. On the all-important pop-culture branding issue, the aviator fighter pilot logo has been getting mediocre reviews. Regarding the logo, the reflection in the visor of the fighter pilot helmet represents the backdrop of Summerlin, the location of the new ballpark.
For real baseball enthusiasts, catcher Sean Murphy was worth the price of admission. The Wright State University product threw out a speedster with a perfect throw and hit the first Aviator home run in Las Vegas Ballpark. The HR was a monstrous blast to deep centerfield and it even was beyond the pool area. It would not surprise me if Murphy is a soon-to-be call up by the parent club, the Oakland A’s.
The 11-2 victory over the Sacramento River Cats included four triples in the third inning by the home team. This was a very rare and thrilling baseball accomplishment. Paul Blackburn got the win and while scattering five hits. Shortstop Jorge Mateo was 4-for-5, with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored, while first baseman Seth Brown added three hits.
Hall of Famer, Ricky Henderson (60), a roving instructor for Oakland A’s, looked very trim and fit. He was on the pregame field playing catch with some of the prospects. He still looks like he could compete.
At their home opener previously, which the Aviators also won, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said, “Without a doubt, this is the finest Triple-A stadium in the country, providing a major league venue for the city's beloved minor league team. Built in just over a year, Las Vegas Ballpark is proof of southern Nevada's can-do attitude.”
There is bus service to downtown Summerlin and because of the time involved, plan accordingly. An RTC Transit Center is located directly in front of the Ballpark along Pavilion Center Drive, providing mass transit opportunities. The Downtown Summerlin Transit Facility features an open plaza, shaded canopies, benches and bicycle racks. Route 206 (Charleston) and the Sahara Express (SX) service the stop and operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For route information, visit www.rtcsnv.com .
In 1952, the community of Summerlin was named after Howard Hughes’ grandmother, Jean Amelia Summerlin.
Sports broadcaster Raymond Rolak talks story about Hawaii with Mr. Aviator at the Las Vegas Ballpark before a recent Pacific Coast League game in Summerlin - Photo credit: Bob Flowers