Stadium another boon for thriving Summerlin

Triple A baseball in the very heart of Summerlin? It was only a fantasy, even after discussions about how a stadium might fit in were voiced six years ago by those enterprising folks at The Howard Hughes Corp.

So they set out to do something about it, and, in May 2013, Hughes Corp. purchased half of the Las Vegas 51s baseball team. Last March it bought the other half. And last month Hughes, developers of the Summerlin master plan, announced that Las Vegas Ballpark would be built in the heart of Summerlin.

That means the state-of-the-art facility will rise in Downtown Summerlin, a stone’s throw from City National Arena, the new ice-skating facility that serves as the practice rink for the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Obviously, we’re very excited about this project,” said Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for Hughes. Warden should be excited, because he was among those early visionaries at Hughes Corp.

The stadium, estimated to cost close to $150 million, including land value and infrastructure needs, is expected to be ready for the 2019 season. It will be built to accommodate capacity crowds of 10,000, well within the scope of newer Pacific Coast League stadiums.

But the ballpark will provide more than just a home for a franchise that has been playing since 1983 at Cashman Field, a facility that ranks among the oldest and most obsolete in all of organized baseball. You talk to Don Logan, president and chief operating officer of the 51s, who has been connected to the team for 34 of its 35 years, and he’ll tell you that talk about the need to replace Cashman Field began as far back as 1998.

Warden referred to Downtown Summerlin as the “crown jewel” of the community and noted that the stadium will not be one-dimensional. It will be capable of hosting concerts and a wide range of civic, community and nonprofit events.

When fully developed, Downtown Summerlin will consist of approximately 400 acres. It is bounded by the 215 Beltway on the west and Town Center Drive on the East, and Sahara Avenue on the south and Charleston Boulevard on the north. Already in Downtown Summerlin are Red Rock Resort, the Lifetime Building and the City National Bank Building, all of which front Charleston Boulevard.

Warden exhibited a draft board that displayed several thousand residential units and numerous office buildings scattered throughout the second phase of Downtown Summerlin.

“All of this will be energized by the addition of both Las Vegas Ballpark and City National Arena,” he noted.

The plan showed high-rise and mid-rise homes as well as brownstone-type neighborhoods, in addition to small food markets and other shops, all contained in an urban setting but integrated within small parks of grass, trees, benches and walking paths.

The newest project under construction is a six-story office building that’s scheduled to open by next fall. It’s close to where the stadium will be.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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