Could a baseball stadium be in Summerlin's future?

Take a vast tract of prime real estate, add it to the newly emerging 106-acre Shops at Summerlin retail center, which is contiguous to one of its borders, and you have just the ingredients necessary for developing what insiders have long viewed as the very heart and soul of Summerlin.

It's no secret that the 200-acre tract adjoining the site of the retail center has been preserved by The Howard Hughes Corp., developer of Summerlin, for something really special. That something special could be deemed "Summerlin's downtown," or its "urban village," or its "pedestrian paradise." Or, why not all three?

Those were just some of the speculative terms thrown out by Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations at Hughes.

Or, as Warden referred to the 200 acres of vacant property, "This site has always been regarded as the future commercial center of Summerlin."

Think about it. The Shops at Summerlin is expected to resume construction soon after the new year with a commitment for a 180,000-square-foot department store. That pledge, from Macy's, is already the catalyst for other retail activity that the Hughes people are sifting on a daily basis.

The site of the retail center that will eventually contain more than 125 shops is in an ideal location, along the Las Vegas Beltway just south of Red Rock Resort. The additional 200 acres, which will adjoin the retail center, are surrounded by Charleston Boulevard, Sahara Avenue and Town Center Drive.

"Development of the retail center is just the beginning," Warden said as he broadened some of Hughes' thinking. "That will spur additional development onto the chunk of land right next door, which is almost twice as big."

So what's the corporate vision for so large a tract in so desirable a location?

"It would make for a beautiful urban village, providing condo-like homes and recreation for people living and working in the area, sort of a pedestrian-friendly paradise," he commented.

Condos, commercial offices, entertainment ---- all were mentioned in the same breath as Warden characterized his thoughts of "a regional center that would increase the quality of life."

When asked what kind of entertainment, he replied, "We don't know yet. It's still too soon to speculate."

Could entertainment include professional baseball, complemented by a stadium to accommodate the Las Vegas 51s minor-league baseball team? More to the point, a modern ballpark in "downtown Summerlin" to replace the antiquated facilities that encompass Cashman Field?

Warden didn't say yes ---- nor did he say no. In essence, he was unable to say much at all in response to the question. That's because there are too many factors still in play and too many components in a somewhat complex picture before he or anyone else at Hughes could comment on whether Triple-A baseball will find a home in Summerlin.

This much is known, however: The Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club is an entity that includes Hughes as its majority participant, and it has been involved in negotiations for some time to purchase the 51s.

"We're still in the process of acquiring the team, and it's too soon to contemplate a new facility," Warden said. "As things move forward, we'll have something to say."

A baseball stadium on the vacant tract makes sense for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the size of the site and its accessibility. There would be sufficient land for parking, as well as the condos, office buildings and amenities of an urban village.

In addition, being situated in such close proximity to a major shopping center, surrounded by condos and offices, and with other new homes rising within the southern and western perimeters of Summerlin, professional baseball and a stadium on the location could bring major economic benefits for the entire city.

There are numerous similarities to show how successful such a "pedestrian-friendly" baseball facility could play out. In fact, we're surrounded by them. To name a few, there's Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco and Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

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