By ALAN SNEL
After decades of declining to subsidize new sports stadiums, southern Nevada is jumping into the sports venue spending game big-time.
Not only is Nevada raising $1.2 billion over 30 years to give the NFL Raiders a $750 million stadium subsidy for a new domed, 65,000-seat venue, the powerful Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is proposing to spend $80 million in public money during the next 20 years on a new Las Vegas Triple A baseball park marketing deal for a venue near City National Arena and downtown Summerlin.
Remarkably, neither the LVCVA leadership nor the 51s owners, Howard Hughes Corp., informed the public about this proposed $80 million ballpark marketing expenditure and naming rights deal until it showed up on the LVCVA’s meeting agenda for Tuesday morning. The LVCVA board may vote on the $80 million deal even though there has been no public discussion yet.
It’s hardly a secret that Howard Hughes Corp. was planning a new 51s ballpark for Pavilion Center Drive in Downtown Summerlin, which Howard Hughes also owns. The 51s owners have complained for years that downtown Cashman Field, which is run by the LVCVA and is the 51s home, is outdated for Triple A baseball.
But quietly slipping an $80 million ballpark marketing deal onto an LVCVA board meeting agenda is hardly a good job of informing the public about how the LVCVA wants to spend your public dollars.
There are no back-up documents online for this meeting agenda item.
So, the only info the public has regarding this item is a meeting agenda description saying the LVCVA’s marketing division is asking the board to green light a deal with the Clark County Las Vegas Stadium LLC to give the LVCVA exclusive rights to name the Las Vegas Ballpark and related marketing, promotional and signage features.
The deal calls for the LVCVA spending $4 million a year over 20 years — or $80 million.
The $80 million just happens to be the rough cost of building a new minor league ballpark of 10,000-12,000 seats, so it appears as if the LVCVA is paying to build the new venue and receiving naming rights and marketing amenities in return. LVSportsBiz.com checked the Nevada Secretary of State’s website for Clark County Las Vegas Stadium LLC, but found no results.
The LVCVA has claimed for years that it was losing money on managing and maintaining the Cashman facility, while 51s officials have complained the ballpark is too old and outdated to host a Triple A ballclub. Triple A affiliates for the Dodgers, Padres and Blue Jays have all come and gone, citing the ballpark as a factor.
Now the 51s’ current Major League Baseball parent is leaving, too. The New York Mets plan to leave Las Vegas for a new Triple A home in Syracuse, NY after the 2018 season at Cashman.
The proposed Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin would be built near the Vegas Golden Knights training center/headquarters, City National Arena, along Pavilion Center Drive right across the street from the Downtown Summerlin retail area.
Thomas Warden, Howard Hughes ballpark spokesman, could not be reached for comment. Warden typically has very little to tell the public about Howard Hughes’ new ballpark aspirations.
In a recent email about stadium contractors to LVSportsBiz.com, Warden said, “We have been meeting with contractors as well as design professionals on the potential stadium project in Summerlin . . . however at this time there is no formal agreement in place.”
A “potential” stadium project?
The LVCVA wants to spend $80 million on this “potential” stadium project. And the convention authority board could approve this 20-year, $4-million-a-year expenditure as early as Tuesday morning. If the board approves the deal, the 51s could move from Cashman into the new ballpark as early as 2019.
Cashman will still be hosting sports events even if the 51s leave. The new Las Vegas Lights Triple A professional soccer team of the United Soccer League will play at Cashman starting next year. The Lights owner, Brett Lashbrook, likes Cashman as his soccer team’s home.
The LVCVA board meeting will happen the morning of the Vegas Golden Knights’ first regular-season home game at T-Mobile Arena. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley used private money to build the $25 million City National Arena training center near the proposed ballpark site and owns a 15 percent stake in the privately-financed T-Mobile Arena, which is also co-owned by MGM Resorts International and Los Angeles-based AEG.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com