With professional sports franchises and venues transforming Las Vegas, a new minor league ballpark in Summerlin is about to provide an economic jolt for the master-planned community.
On about 70 days this spring and summer, thousands of people will visit the new, $150 million Las Vegas Ballpark, where the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators will reside in the heart of Downtown Summerlin. The stadium is walking distance from Red Rock Resort and just behind City National Arena, the Golden Knights’ practice facility.
“This is the talk of the town in Summerlin wherever you go,” said Kevin Orrock, president of the 22,000-acre master-planned community. “This is going to be a huge amenity in the middle of our community, but also something that Southern Nevada can be proud of.”
There is so much interest in the new facility that tickets for the Aviators’ opener—April 9 against Sacramento—sold out in a matter of minutes when they went on sale recently. Even on the days when there isn’t a baseball game, Orrock said, the goal is to have concerts and other events at the ballpark.
And without a doubt, event nights will be a massive economic boon to Summerlin—baseball fans visiting restaurants and shops, and more important, seeing everything Summerlin has to offer.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Steve Zurita, owner of Sports Town USA, a sports merchandise store in Downtown Summerlin. “It’s going to bring people down. That first game being sold out, that’s huge.”
With Summerlin about a 20-minute drive from the Strip, the hope for the Howard Hughes Corp.—owner of the Summerlin community and the Aviators—is that fans from across the Las Vegas Valley will routinely visit the ballpark. It will be a slightly longer drive for fans coming from Henderson on the 215 Beltway.
“Access to the ballpark is phenomenal,” Orrock said. “You can get to the site from probably anywhere in the Valley quicker than you could get to the old Cashman site. It’s just off the 215, and once you get here, you’re going to get a great fan experience.”
Summerlin has already found success with City National Arena, which has been a significant draw for spectators. When the NHL season ends and Southern Nevada’s summer temperatures begin to skyrocket, businesses in Downtown Summerlin tend to see fewer customers and patrons.
“This will really lift [businesses] during their slow months, usually from mid-June through Labor Day,” said Don Logan, president of the Aviators and the longtime face of professional baseball in Las Vegas. “The notion that sports venues don’t work for communities is false. The interest that we have and the interest that the Knights have at City National Arena, it’s significant.”
Tom Kaplan of Summerlin’s Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, which sits just a stone’s throw from Las Vegas Ballpark, said if even a fraction of the ballpark’s capacity is filled each game, it should help area restaurants.
“We’re going to see large crowds to Summerlin on a regular basis,” Kaplan said. “It can be a bit of a struggle during the summer around here because of the heat and because people are going on vacations and things like that. Even if 2,000 people go to a game, though, that means more people around. If we got 10 tables per night because of baseball, that helps a lot.”
As for the question of people sitting outside to watch a baseball game during the summer, Logan said the Summerlin site has an advantage over Cashman Field, the Downtown Las Vegas former home of the team.
“It’s 1,000 feet higher in Summerlin than at Cashman, and that means it’s 10 degrees cooler,” Logan said. “We have mesh seats, which are 68 degrees cooler than a regular plastic seat. I’d argue that 110 is the magic number—under that is all right. Anything 110 or higher is brutal, but there’s also no humidity here.”
It all adds up, Orrock said, to an easy-to-get-to, family-friendly attraction for the spring and summer months.
“A lot of people go to baseball because it’s a social, family event,” Orrock said. “The future of Summerlin and the future of Vegas is strong. This is a downtown area in Summerlin that will, 10 years from now, look very different.”