weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Investors pay $20 million to buy Las Vegas 51s

It’s official: the Las Vegas 51s have new local owners.

Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of the Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group, which included investors Steve Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer, announced Monday it has closed on the purchase of the 51s from the Stevens Baseball Group.

The price was $20 million for the Triple-A baseball team, which is affiliated with the New York Mets. The Pacific Coast League team has been in Las Vegas for 30 years. The $20 million sale price is what Triple A teams typically sell for these days.

“We’re excited to announce it. We feel very strongly about baseball in Las Vegas,” Mack, the team’s managing partner, told the Review-Journal on Monday.

Job one for the new owners: “We want to learn as much as possible,” Mack said. Mack, of Summerlin, grew up in Reno and is the former owner of SuperPawn Inc., a chain of 50 shops sold to Cash America in 2004. He has a new e-commerce software company in Summerlin.

In a statement, Howard Hughes Corp. Chief Executive David Weinreb said, “We see the opportunity of owning the 51s as a great way to extend our commitment to the entire Las Vegas Valley. We will work to ensure that the baseball experience in Las Vegas is among the best and look forward to an exciting new era for the team, their fans and followers.”

About 2½ hours before Monday night’s game, Mack joined Don Logan, the 51s longtime team executive, to discuss the franchise’s new start.

“It sets the stage for big things going forward,” said Logan, 51s executive vice president, directly referring to plans for a new ballpark for the team.

The biggest new challenge for the new owners is to win public support for their proposal to move the 51s from 30-year-old Cashman Field near downtown Las Vegas to a new $65 million ballpark next to Red Rock Resort in Summerlin near Charleston Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway. The owners envision a ballpark called The Ballpark at Summerlin Centre with 8,000-9,000 seats on 16-20 acres to be donated by Howard Hughes Corp., which values the land donation at $40 million.

The new owners want a three-way partnership between the city of Las Vegas, Clark County and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to float bonds to pay for the $65 million ballyard, which would be surrounded by a proposed mini-urban village of retail stores and restaurants. The proposed Summerlin ballpark site is in Clark County, a mere 500 yards from the city line.

Mack, friendly and enthusiastic on his first day as part-owner, offered upbeat sound bites:

— “The vision is that want to be deeper in the community.”

— “It’s getting everyone on the same page.”

— “The most important thing is to get municipalities on board.”

— “We’re not thinking short-term.”

Dallas-based Howard Hughes, the largest community development company in the Las Vegas Valley, is the landowner and master planner of 22,500-acre Summerlin, which began more than 25 years ago.

The new owners bought the club from the Stevens entity, which includes Derek Stevens, owner of The D Las Vegas in downtown Las Vegas. Stevens declined to comment Monday.

Mack said previous out-of-town owners have run the 51s “as an outside business,” but he’s excited about the team’s fresh start because of the local control.

“We have parties invested in the community,” Mack said.

Mack has argued that it makes better financial sense to build a new ballpark than have the LVCVA, which owns the 51-acre Cashman complex, spend $5.5 million on annual maintenance and operations. Officials for the team and the Pacific Coast League said Cashman Field is antiquated, lacking adequate batting practice facilities and training rooms.

The 51s pay $314,800 in annual rent at Cashman Field, which has capacity of 9,334. The team’s average game attendance was 4,388 in 2012. That’s the number of distributed tickets, not actual turnstile count.

While the new owners want public dollars to underwrite a new ballpark, opponents argue the public should not pay for the team’s new stadium.

And some neighbors already oppose the Summerlin ballpark project because of the ballyard’s traffic and parking impact. Francisco Virella, a teacher who lives in the Willow Springs neighborhood near the proposed ballyard, said residents fear parking problems, traffic and possible drunken fans on their streets would hurt home values.

“That said we want to be good neighbors and are willing to sit down to meet with the new ownership group to see if we can together come up with solutions that will eradicate any negative impact to the community of Willow Springs,” Virella said.

“The proximity of our community between the 215 and the stadium will make Willow Springs perhaps one of the most convenient places for patrons to park of they wish to avoid a parking fee and/or traffic from leaving the game,” he said.

Mack said he’s also a Summerlin resident, and he will meet with neighbors to discuss parking and traffic issues.

“There won’t be a shortage of parking,” Mack said. “We’ll listen to everyone.”

The new owners already have some new ideas for the team. They might re-brand the team with a new name and logo and build a rotunda to encircle the proposed Summerlin ballpark for small children and families.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bees sweep doubleheader from Aviators in Salt Lake

Matt Thiass clubbed a grand slam in the first inning of the opener and Jarrett Parker and Brennon Lund delivered two-run singles in the first inning of the second game as the Salt Lake Bees swept a Pacific Coast League doubleheader from the Las Vegas Aviators on Sunday at Smith’s Ballpark, 9-2 and 6-4.

Aviators split doubleheader with Bees in Salt Lake

Kaleb Cowart doubled home two runs in the fourth inning of the second game Saturday night as the Salt Lake Bees beat the Las Vegas Aviators 4-2 and gained a split of a Pacific Coast League doubleheader at Smith’s Ballpark.