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Ceremony offers look at Summerlin’s fast-rising ballpark

You had to see it, and you didn’t even have to hear what they were saying in order to believe it. You already knew that once construction is completed, Las Vegas Ballpark will be “the envy of the country,” as Don Logan, president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas 51s, told those who gathered for the topping-out ceremony.

The location is next door to City National Arena and just east of Downtown Summerlin. And the purpose of the celebration, attended by hundreds of sports addicts, dignitaries and construction workers, was to watch the last beam being hoisted into position atop a left-field wall that already is a reminder of the renowned “Green Monster” in Boston’s Fenway Park.

For Logan, a Summerlin resident who makes it a daily practice to visit the site, it is indeed a dream come true.

“It’s very fitting that we are here to witness this event. Las Vegas is a baseball town,” he exclaimed.

Logan emphasized that when the 51s — who will have a new name — open their 2019 home season on April 9 against the Sacramento River Cats in their magnificent new digs, it will be the start of the 37th season for professional baseball in Las Vegas. It will also be the 36th season that Logan, affectionately referred to in Las Vegas as Mr. Baseball, will be associated with the franchise.

With all due respect to the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL and soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL, the Las Vegas franchise of the Pacific Coast League has been an integral part of Southern Nevada’s sports scene long before any other franchise in any other sport.

Logan well remembers the many times, over many years, that he spoke of a new modern baseball stadium that would one day replace antiquated Cashman Field.

“Well, now you’re seeing it for yourself,” he said as he pointed to the steel structure that forms the making of Las Vegas Ballpark.

More significant is the fact that Las Vegas Ballpark, combined with the Golden Knights practice facility at City National Arena, will form what is already being referred to as the Summerlin Sports Complex.

And yet, just a short time ago, neither facility was anything more than a dream to most, although in some quarters they were well beyond a dream.

“Yes, we remember those days quite well,” commented Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for the Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the baseball franchise and the new stadium. We recalled the wall display in the boardroom of Hughes Corp., shown by Warden some years ago. On it was the future display of Downtown Summerlin. And just as prominent was the positioning of the baseball stadium for the 51s.

Then there was the evening several years ago when Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, who also heads up business development for the 51s, told an audience in Sun City Summerlin that yes, indeed, there would be a professional baseball stadium in Summerlin.

“Summerlin sure has a lot to be proud of,” said Brown, who once played professional baseball. He and I watched as the beam was being placed into position. Just a short distance away was City National Arena.

For those who may not fully realize the excitement the soon-to-be completed stadium is generating, just stroll down to the Las Vegas Ballpark store on Festival Plaza Drive in Downtown Summerlin and witness the activity in the sale of tickets for next season.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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