Years of delays and doubts about the new ballpark sought by the Las Vegas 51s vanished today with the announcement of plans for a Downtown Summerlin stadium.
Howard Hughes Corp., which acquired a controlling ownership interest in the team earlier this year, announced plans for a 10,000-seat park that will break ground by early 2018 and be ready for the 2019 season.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority acquired naming rights for the stadium in a 20-year, $80 million deal approved by the organization’s board. It will be called Las Vegas Ballpark.
“With a new home in Downtown Summerlin, the future of professional baseball in Southern Nevada looks exceptionally bright,” 51s President Don Logan said. “We are confident this location, which is easily accessed from all regions of the valley via the 215 Beltway, will help grow our fan base and introduce new generations to America’s favorite pastime.”
The stadium will feature 22 luxury suites, club seats, berm seating, party zones and decks, a kids zone and a pool beyond the outfield wall.
Howard Hughes Corp. bought 50 percent of the team for $16.4 million in March from previous partner Play Ball Owners Group, a Las Vegas-based investor group. It previously owned the other half of the club in a joint venture with Play Ball, and can donate its own land for the stadium, easing the cost of the stadium project.
HOK, a leading sports architecture firm that recently completed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will design the facility. HOK was involved in plans for a Las Vegas baseball stadium in 2004 when the Montreal Expos considered moving to the valley before going to Washington, D.C.
The team will leave Cashman Field when Las Vegas Ballpark is ready. The 34-year-old stadium is the oldest in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) and has suffered in recent years from sewage leaks and other maintenance issues.
Cashman does not have indoor batting cages for teams to practice, forcing players outdoors on the asphalt during the summer heat. Logan also pointed to limited locker room and weight room space.
Fans complain about long bathroom and concession lines caused by outdated facilities.
Logan and PCL representatives campaigned for close to a decade for a new stadium. In May, Logan made the case when rumors of the Hughes plan began to emerge.
“Everything about Vegas, both as a tourist and a resident — and we speak more to the resident — is top-notch,” Logan said. “It doesn’t make sense for us not to have a state-of-the-art facility from a fan perspective. That’s most important. Secondarily and nearly as important is getting it from a player-development perspective.”
The LVCVA previously owned Cashman Field but began the process of transferring ownership to the city of Las Vegas last year. The 51s’ lease at Cashman Field runs through 2022 and requires a two-year notice for the team to break it, though the stadium could be ready sooner.
The Las Vegas Lights of the United Soccer League will share Cashman with the 51s until the baseball team moves. Lights owner Brett Lashbrook plans to keep his team at Cashman for the foreseeable future, after signing a 15-year lease with the city in July.
"We are fully committed to downtown Las Vegas and believe it is the ideal location to host professional soccer starting in February 2018," Lashbrook said.
Downtown Summerlin is also home of City National Arena, the practice facility for the Vegas Golden Knights, in addition to its range of shopping and dining options.