Dig into the Las Vegas Aviators’ shiny new Downtown Summerlin ballpark

Don Logan, the longtime face of professional baseball in Las Vegas, couldn’t help but be impressed with the pageantry during a visit to a minor-league ballpark in Dayton, Ohio. By his own admission, he was envious. Back in 2000, Dayton was debuting its new stadium, which included the player and fan amenities Logan sought for his club in Southern Nevada. Everything was modern and clean, and more importantly, fans packed the stands for a night of entertainment. A few years later, as other minor-league ballparks across the nation started to be renovated or rebuilt completely, Logan was in Frisco, Texas, for another opening. It rained that day—and the game still sold out. Logan saw minor-league baseball booming and envisioned a similar transformation in Las Vegas. “Nothing against Dayton,” Logan says, “but everything about Las Vegas was bigger and better.” So Logan started his quest of moving the Triple-A franchise out of Downtown Las Vegas and into one of the Valley’s suburban neighborhoods. That mission will finally be realized next week—more than 15 years later—when the Las Vegas Aviators begin play at the Las Vegas Ballpark at Downtown Summerlin. Logan, the club’s president and chief operating officer, labels the $150 million, 10,000-seat facility as the best minor-league setup he’s seen in three decades in the industry. “This is like a major-league stadium,” he says. Funding new construction, whether it be upgrades to outdated Cashman Field or a new build, always represented a significant hurdle. But in 2013, Summerlin developer the Howard Hughes Corp. was part of a group that purchased the team, essentially starting its plan to move out of Downtown. The effort was assisted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority providing $80 million over 20 years for the ballpark’s naming rights. Logan is constantly giving tours to colleagues and residents ahead of the April 9 opener against Sacramento. He says the response has been almost uniform. "They’re like, 'Wow, you pulled it off,' " Logan says. "This is so far an upgrade from what existed in this market that people are just awestruck." Here’s what to expect: • A pool beyond the left-center fence, which can hold up to 50 people for a per-game cost of $2,000. Most of the stadium’s 22 suites have been accounted for at $75,000 for the season. There are party decks, featuring a view of the ballpark and the Strip, on each side of the club level. The open-air space seats 350 fans on each side and costs $40 per person including food. Gameday suites are available to rent for 18, 36 or 54 guests, and start at $1,250. • Ticket prices will fluctuate depending on the game’s demand, from $12 for the berm outfield seats next to the outfield box for $15-$25, followed by dugout boxes from $22-$32 and $35-$45 behind home plate. • Season-ticket sales, which include partial plans, have tripled to more than 4,000. And within 15 minutes of going on sale, all tickets for the home opener were sold out. • Unlike Cashman Field, which had no permanent seating in the mostly closed-off outfield, the new stadium is open from end to end and is walkable all the way around during the game. (The view is especially awesome when looking down from the foul poles). Similar to Boston’s Fenway Park, there are rows of seats in left field, just beyond the 14-foot home run wall. • The heat of the Las Vegas summers won’t be as intolerable, since all of the seats are mesh—the lone ballpark nationally with 100 percent mesh-seating, according to the Aviators. Most others are plastic or vinyl. With air flowing through the mesh seats, officials say they will maintain a temperature of less than 100 degrees. Also, there will be fan circulation throughout the concourse to help alleviate high temperatures. • The video board is 3,930 square feet—the largest Daktronics has installed in the minor leagues at 31 feet high by 126 feet wide. It features a 13 HD pixel layout, and on off-nights, movies will be played for Summerlin residents. • When players are promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to the parent club in Oakland, they’ll notice the clubhouse in the big leagues isn’t as spacious or luxurious as the one in Summerlin. Indoor batting cages, a weight room and a rehabilitation center are among the player amenities at Las Vegas Ballpark, a major upgrade from Cashman’s offerings. • The bullpen for each team will be in right field, rather than down the baseline like at Cashman. The park dimensions are 340 feet to right and left field, and 415 to center. The home run wall, with the exception of left field, is 10 feet high—meaning fans could see some potential home run balls robbed by the outfielders. • The food and beverage options are equally upscale, including beer from Tenaya Creek Brewery and bites from local favorites like Capriotti’s, Me Gusta Tacos and Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant. The ballpark includes a show kitchen where celebrity chefs can cook for fans. • The Aviators will be the lone professional sports franchise in Las Vegas to offer free parking. Additionally, nearby Red Rock Resort plans to provide free parking in its garage, encouraging fans to start or finish their night of entertainment at the Station Casinos property. • The club’s popular Dollar Beer Night will be replaced with a $2 beer night, still on Thursdays and utilizing the same 10-ounce cup. • The popular Fourth of July fireworks display will take place on July 3 going forward. That’s because neighboring Red Rock Resort, one of the Aviators’ corporate sponsors, features fireworks on July 4. Other scheduled firework nights include April 26, May 24, June 21 and Aug. 30. • Other promotions include: Aviators sunglasses on April 14; Star Wars Night on April 27; Dri-Fit Aviators shirt on April 27; Aviators hat May 4; a School Day game on May 14; and Aviators Jersey on June 29 and August 31. By Ray Brewer