By ALAN SNEL
Dear Howard Hughes Corporation,
What are you guys waiting for?
You realize every year you wait to build a new 51s ballpark next to Downtown Summerlin means the most patient man in America — 51s President Don Logan — has to roll out the ol’ “sewage-at-Cashman” tale as his graphic go-to, fallback story about why Cashman is a sad excuse of a Triple A ballyard in a tough neighborhood.
This is a no-brainer.
Build the 51s new ball yard along Pavilion Center Drive in Summerlin.
Howard Hughes, you own:
1. The 51s
2. the land along Pavilion Center Drive where the 51s stadium is going to be built
3. Summerlin, the super-duper west valley development area that will host the ballpark
4. Downtown Summerlin, which is a nice feeder of fans who can stroll across the street to the new ball yard.
A lovely Triple A ballpark of 10,000 seats or so should cost you about $60 million to $70 million and would be a great fit for your Downtown Summerlin. It can also host concerts during the baseball off-season and drive traffic to your Downtown Summerlin restaurants. With Red Rock Canyon serving as a western backdrop, I can see you re-branding the 51s into the Red Rockies.
I reached out to Howard Hughes’ Tom Warden, senior VP for community and government relations at the company’s Summerlin office Monday and had a pleasant chat with Warden’s administrative assistant. But LVSportsBiz.com never heard back from Warden.
For the love of Wally Backman, what’s holding up a ballpark groundbreaking?
It’s a killer site that would tap Summerlin’s families for hundreds of ticket buys, while also being easily accessible to thousands of other fans via the 215 and the rest of the valley. Red Rock Resort is only a 10-minute walk away.
How about some political leadership on the 51s new ballpark?
Which brings us to Steve Sisolak, a sports-loving county commissioner eyeing a run for the governor’s house in Carson City.
I know Sisolak is in love with the Raiders, their move to the Las Vegas market and the Raiders stadium. I know it’s the NFL, the most holiest of sports grails in this country.
I hope Sisolak can also throw a little love the 51s’ way and help this longtime Las Vegas baseball team develop a non-sewage-smelling ball yard at the Summerlin site, which technically is in the county — not the city of Las Vegas.
Sisolak likes to think of himself as a “facilitator” in helping move the Raiders’ plan along in the county for their $1.9 billion domed stadium for 65,000 fans at 62 acres at Polaris Avenue and Russell Road on the west side of I-15. (Well, the $1.9 billion is is an estimate. The Raiders — not the local stadium authority — is running the stadium development and we still don’t know how much the stadium project will exactly cost because the Raiders won’t tell the public their financial stadium info.)
The good news is Sisolak told LVSportsBiz.com Tuesday evening that, “We’re working on the (51s) stadium as we speak. But there’s sensitive negotiations.”
He noted that, “It would have gone quicker, but Rossi got sick.”
Sisolak explained LVCVA chief Rossi Ralenkotter is dealing with an illness, but the negotiations are underway and that a deal between the convention authority and the 51s could be reached in July. The ballclub has to give the convention authority two years notice to get out of its lease with the LVCVA, but it would take about that amount of time to build and open a new ballpark, he said. Sisolak noted taxpayer money would not be used to build the 51s ballpark.
Cashman’s true role as a sports venue is hosting minor league soccer.
So, it appears the convention authority leadership is working with the 51s to spring them loose from Cashman. That would get the LVCVA out of the business of managing a minor league stadium that simply does not function well when the crowd hits 6,000 or 7,000 or 8,000 fans, Logan said. The narrow concourse gets choked with concession stand lines and fans walking around when attendance swells to those numbers. And once June’s triple-digit temps kick in, the metal bleacher-style benches in the stands get mighty toasty.
And don’t get Logan going about those sewage back-up issues.
It’s time to build the stadium for the local guys. And I’m not talking about the Raiders. A ballpark along Pavilion Center Drive would be near the Golden Knights’ new training facility, and serve as an ideal sports companion venue to the indoor ice rinks.
And most importantly, build the 51s ballpark already so Logan can stop talking sewage.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com