December 14, 2018 - 4:11 pm
Long regarded as a world-class destination, Las Vegas is brimming with premier hotels, celebrity chef restaurants, best-in-class shopping and top-tier entertainment. And while all those attractions annually draw more than 42 million tourists to the city, one thing has long been lacking. That is, until 2017, when the city added not one, but three professional sports teams, to its already stellar line-up.
Taking the city by storm was the National Hockey League’s Golden Knights, which in true Las Vegas fashion, beat all the odds by going to the Stanley Cup Final after an electrifying inaugural year that not only made hockey fans out of desert dwellers, but united the community after the Oct. 1 mass shooting.
While professional hockey was stealing hearts and grabbing headlines at T-Mobile Arena, the WNBA’s Aces brought professional women’s basketball to the city just down the street at Mandalay Bay Special Events Center. The Aces’ star performer is the league’s first overall draft pick for 2018 and Rookie of the Year, A’ja Wilson.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Raiders made their move to Sin City official in late 2017 with a star-studded groundbreaking of the $1.8 billion Las Vegas stadium that will become the team’s official home beginning with the 2020 season.
What’s happening with professional sports in Las Vegas on a macro-scale is happening in the master-planned community of Summerlin on a micro-scale, according to Kevin T. Orrock, president, Summerlin. A development of The Howard Hughes Corp., Summerlin is entering its 29th year of development and has easily become the community of choice for many of the city’s influencers, celebrities, captains of industry, and now, many of the city’s sports elite.
“The infusion of excitement, pride and community spirit the Vegas Golden Knights have brought to Las Vegas is even more magnified in Summerlin, where the team makes its home at City National Arena,” Orrock said. “Daily, hundreds of fans flock to the Arena to watch the team practice, buy VGK merchandise and get up close and personal with our city’s hottest celebrities. And today, hockey is no longer just a spectator sport in Las Vegas. Thanks to the Knights, scores of youth and adult hockey programs are now thriving with athletes of all ages and skill levels.”
According to Orrock, sightings of the team and coaching staff are common occurrences at Summerlin restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and community gathering spots, especially throughout Downtown Summerlin.
“The community has welcomed the Knights with open arms, and the Knights have reciprocated that embrace. It’s a true love affair,” he said.
Golden Knights right wing and Canadian Reilly Smith can vouch for that sentiment. Smith, who visited Las Vegas for the first time in 2017 to attend a friend’s bachelor party — just three weeks before the NHL expansion draft — knew nothing of Las Vegas beyond the Strip. After joining the team and moving to Las Vegas, his initial shock of being transferred turned into a love affair with the city and the Summerlin community where he now lives.
“Everything we need is right here,” Smith said. “My girlfriend, Melissa, and I, love to dine at Downtown Summerlin, where we have many options. Residents are always friendly and welcoming where we go. We’re close enough to the Strip to play tour guide when friends and family visit, and we’re far enough away to escape the hustle when we need a break. Best of all, commuting from home to City National Arena takes just a few minutes.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Smith, whose brother, Brendan, plays for the New York Rangers, says his parents joke about making customized jerseys — split with Vegas Golden Knights and New York Rangers markings.
“My family pretty much moved in with us during the Stanley Cup Final, and, of course, friends from all walks of life are reaching out to me to come to Las Vegas,” Smith said. “While they are supportive of my hockey career and the Knights, I know the allure of the city is part of the draw to come here. Thank goodness I have a house with lots of bedrooms.”
As president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Aviators, a member of the Pacific Coast League and Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, Don Logan takes argument about Las Vegas as a new sports town.
“Las Vegas, in my mind, has always been a sports town,” Logan said. “NASCAR has been bringing millions of fans to the city since 1996, and the baseball team has amassed thousands of loyal fans who are especially demonstrative in their undying support. And now, with Las Vegas Ballpark nearing completion, the fans have even more reason to come on board. Previously, our city lacked first-class sports facilities. Today, that’s all changed. What the Knights did on the ice was remarkable, and the effect was a sports tsunami that no one expected. Today, everyone in the sports world is looking at Las Vegas more closely.”
Logan and his wife, Jen, a well-known and respected advertising executive, have made Summerlin their home for more than 20 years. While the couple loves Summerlin for all the obvious reasons — from abundant golf courses to natural and man-made beauty that no other Southern Nevada community comes close to replicating — the Logans especially appreciate the friendship and strong sense of community they share with neighbors.
“Like us, our neighbors understand the value of living in a place like Summerlin,” Logan said. “Twenty years later, many of our neighbors, who are now longtime friends, are still here. Our homes have well-maintained their value, we enjoy all the amenities the community offers, and we are all living the good Summerlin life. And with the April 2019 completion of Las Vegas Ballpark, my daily commute is about to shrink to mere minutes. It doesn’t get better than that. This is home, and we are here to stay.”
Logan, who is known throughout the town as Mr. Baseball, is counting the days to the completion of Las Vegas Ballpark and the home/season/stadium opener on April 9 .
“The Aviators, known as the Las Vegas Stars for 18 years and the Las Vegas 51s, 18 years after that, have been a staple in the Las Vegas community for over three decades,” he said. “With a new home in Downtown Summerlin, the future of professional baseball in Southern Nevada looks even brighter. We are confident this location, which is easily accessed from all regions of the valley, will expand our fan base and introduce new generations to America’s favorite past time. We can’t wait to put down roots in Downtown Summerlin, a destination that already has a reputation for best in fun, family-oriented entertainment.”
Las Vegas Ballpark is designed to create a festival-like atmosphere and will provide a wide range of seating options including suites, club seats, berm seating, party zones and decks, picnic tables, kids’ zone, bars and even a pool beyond the outfield wall.
Spanning 22,500 acres along the western edge of the Las Vegas Valley and framed by Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Summerlin is credited with making Las Vegas known as a great place to live, not just visit.
The community is home to more than 100,000 Southern Nevadans. With more than 150 miles of walking trails, 250-plus parks of all sizes, 10 golf courses, 25 public, private and charter schools and its own downtown, Summerlin is in a league of its own.
“Hockey and baseball are converging in Summerlin in a spectacular way,” said Orrock, whose Downtown Summerlin office overlooks the City National Arena and Las Vegas Ballpark. “The energy created by the Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Aviators is both electric and palpable,” he said. “Just look at the new development springing up around these landmark sports venues. Watch the steady stream of cars going in and out of the Arena, and witness the making of a spectacular ballpark that will soon be bustling with activity. With both teams making this community their home, Summerlin is already in the winners’ circle.”
Summerlin offers nearly 100 floor plans in 35 neighborhoods throughout eight villages. Homes are available in a variety of styles — from single-family homes to town homes, from 874 to more than 5,000 square feet, priced from the high $200,000s to more than $1 million. Visit Summerlin.com for more information.
Downtown Summerlin, the community’s burgeoning urban core, is home to more than 125 stores, restaurants, entertainment attractions, office towers, a world-class resort and now, two major sports facilities: City National Arena, practice facility of the Vegas Golden Knights; and coming soon, Las Vegas Ballpark, a 10,000-capacity Triple-A baseball stadium and future home of the Las Vegas Aviators.