51s president says Summerlin stadium would be a win-win for fans and downtown

There are some heavy hitters who would like to see the Las Vegas 51s baseball team hit a grand slam by relocating from antiquated Cashman Field to a new ballpark in Summerlin.

Some have a sustained financial interest, others are concerned about the public interest, and still others have a deep Summerlin interest. Then there are the baseball purists, for whom the fans’ interest is uppermost.

And that’s where Don Logan enters the picture. Logan was elevated to the position of president and chief operating officer of the 51s after the Pacific Coast League team was sold in May to a joint venture made up entirely of Summerlin interests.

Logan is in his 30th year with the franchise, which was founded in 1983, the year before he came aboard. That easily casts him as “Mr. Baseball” of Las Vegas.

“During those years, I have done every job here except bookkeeping,” Logan said, referring to the team’s front office. “Baseball has always been my passion. It’s in my heartbeat. I’ve been a baseball freak my whole life.”

Logan, who grew up in Tonopah, is a resident of Summerlin.

“I know the site for the stadium, and driving there would be a breeze from anywhere in the valley,” he said. “Furthermore, it has the full endorsement of the Pacific Coast League.”

Logan referred to a lengthy letter from PCL President Branch Rickey III, strongly urging that a new stadium for the 51s be built in Summerlin.

The new ownership of the 51s is made up of a joint venture named Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC. It consists of The Howard Hughes Corp., which has been developing Summerlin for more than 25 years, and Play Ball Owners Group, a consortium of investors led by Steve Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer.

As for the public interest, Mayor Carolyn Goodman says she would like to see the 51s remain at a renovated Cashman Field –– with renovation costs picked up by the team’s ownership. The Cashman Field complex, which includes the stadium, a theater and a convention center, is owned by the city but administered by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The 51s are bound by a 10-year lease at Cashman Field, but a provision allows them to give “two seasons” notice if they intend to leave.

Goodman has waffled on the matter. She was recently quoted as saying, “If the 51s find the money to move, wonderful, then we get the 57 acres back.”

In the past the mayor has intimated that she would like to extend the downtown renovation begun by her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, by converting the Cashman complex into commercial facilities, possibly to lure the film industry.

Finding “the money to move” is the rub, although Hughes Corp. said it would donate the land, which is worth $40 million. The stadium, estimated to cost $65 million, would be built on a site southeast of Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.

Logan said the limitations of Cashman Field became obvious more than a decade ago.

“The biggest challenge is not just the ballpark,” he said. “You’ve got the convention center on the site. You’ve got the theater on the site. It’s a multiuse facility. And when everything is in use, things really get jammed.”

Pointing to the problem, Logan said that on a recent Saturday night, while other facilities at the Cashman complex were in use, parking became a nightmare. In addition, “The ticket sales lines were so long that some customers were leaving. Trying to get a beer or a hot dog was impossible. There aren’t enough concessionaire stands. Lines to use the restrooms were enormous.”

Another of the more serious problems deals with the neighborhood, which has gone downhill in recent years. Almost all 51s games are played at night, creating security concerns.

“This stadium is clean and safe inside, but the part of town we are located in has become a bit shaky,” he said.

“By putting a ballpark in Summerlin we’d be doing everyone a favor. This is 57 acres of land that can become developable. It can coincide with the whole downtown revitalization effort.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, “All For Nothing,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.