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Aviators provided welcome business bump for Downtown Summerlin

Andrew Morales has seen two kinds of patrons on Las Vegas Aviators’ game nights — those looking for a hearty meal before the game and a post-game crowd craving something to eat after imbibing alcohol at the ballpark.

The manager of Grape Street Café, Wine Bar and Cellar in Downtown Summerlin said he’s seen a nice uptick in business, especially on game nights, with the new Las Vegas Ballpark and the Aviators’ first season.

But Morales and other nearby businesses say while the increased foot traffic was nice to have, it wasn’t significant enough to make them concerned now that the Aviators’ season is over. The team lost 7-3 to the Sacramento River Cats in Game 5 of their Pacific Coast League semifinal playoff series on Sunday.

“This restaurant has been around forever, and we have people that come here more than me so we’ll be fine,” Morales said.

Kimberly Joslin, vice president of marketing at Red Rock Resort, said it’s tough to give a figure of how many more customers walked through its doors, but the resort offered a slew of promotions, including its popular double play two-for-one buffet deal.

“We’ve seen a little bit [more customers],” Joslin said. “It’s hard to observe who went to a game and who didn’t but we definitely see more Aviators apparel on the property.”

While the Aviators added a boost during the season, the increase doesn’t significantly affect Red Rock’s business, she said.

“We have so many amenities and offerings in our building, that’s not necessarily a seasonal offering, I don’t really see it impacting our overall business,” she said.

Stepping up

Excitement among residents and business owners has remained high since the Aviators began their inaugural season in April at their newly built $150 million ballpark.

Kevin Orrock, president of Summerlin for The Howard Hughes Corp., said that while the company doesn’t break down sales figures across its properties, foot traffic has climbed since Downtown Summerlin opened five years ago.

“If you look back at our first year, we did slightly under 14 million visitors to the retail complex,” Orrock said. “This year, we’re at 18.5 million so it’s doing exactly what we hoped it would do.”

The addition of the ballpark to Summerlin has been a selling point for potential homebuyers as well as future office and retail tenants.

“Having the ballpark in Summerlin has lifted interest in all our products — multifamily, office, retail,” he said. “It’s been a change in the climate of the Summerlin community in general. I couldn’t think of another type of amenity that would really drive traffic to this community.”

New faces

For Morales, the benefit is seeing new customers visiting the restaurant.

“It’s been cool to just draw people here when they normally wouldn’t [come],” he said, adding that it started offering a 15 percent discount for Aviators ticket holders. “We’re not the cheapest place, but we’ve got great wine and great food and you get what you pay for, but it’s nice to have a little incentive.”

Angela Gardonio, manager of Sports Town USA, said the sporting apparel retailer has seen plenty of new faces in the store.

“It brought a whole different crowd … and they were coming in for everything to lanyards to decals to jerseys,” Gardonio said.

The timing of the ballpark’s opening was perfect because many fans were still reeling over the controversial five-minute major penalty called against the Golden Knights in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

“The Aviators came around at a perfect time,” she said. “It gave a lot of Las Vegans something else to believe in while we were still hurting from the Knights.”

Now, the Downtown Summerlin shop is making room for football and hockey merchandise. Gardonio pointed out business will continue as each season is the start of a new sport and, therefore, new team merchandise.

Richard Locklear, general manager of Distill A Local Bar located across West Charleston Boulevard not far from Downtown Summerlin, said that while he’ll miss spotting Aviators fans, he’ll likely see them again as those same fans will come back to watch football.

“It’s always busy,” he said. “Now that the Aviators season is over, football season walked right in and when football is over hockey [starts].”

Orrock said Downtown Summerlin will continue to draw shoppers, citing its year-round events including a weekly farmers market. On Tuesday, the property announced a free Halloween parade next month titled “Parade of Mischief,” sponsored by Spirit Halloween.

It will also welcome new tenants such as eateries True Food Kitchen and Jing as well as eyewear brand Warby Parker.

David O’Reilly, chief financial officer at The Howard Hughes Corp., said the ballpark and the nearby Golden Knights’ practice facility have translated into “better retail sales, better office rents and better multifamily rents.”

“We’re thrilled with the results today, but we didn’t make that bet for this summer’s sales,” he said. “We made it for the long-term property value of our residents and the value of our remaining land that we’ll be selling for the next 20 years as we take Summerlin from 100,000 residents to hopefully 200,000 residents over time.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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