Las Vegas Aviators the new name for Triple-A baseball team

Updated December 8, 2018 - 5:44 pm

New ballpark, new nickname.

New logo, colors and souvenir ball caps, too.

The Las Vegas 51s are no more, as the Pacific Coast League franchise that began as the Stars in 1983 officially has been renamed — and repackaged — as the Aviators.

Team president Don Logan said the Triple-A club hit a home run with the new nickname.

“It think it’s fantastic,” Logan said. “Every 18 years we switch. Stars for 18 years, 51s for 18. Now we’ve got the Aviators.”

The announcement was made Saturday at Summerlin Pavilion adjacent to the Las Vegas Ballpark construction site. The $150 million, 10,000-seat stadium being built by majority team owner The Howard Hughes Corp. will replace Cashman Field as the Aviators’ home for the 2019 season.

The new nickname is a nod to Las Vegas’ past as well as its baseball future. It ties in the aviation exploits and pursuits of former Las Vegan and corporation namesake Howard Hughes with a new major league affiliation with the Oakland A’s.

It is expected that the Aviators also will be referred to as the A’s, enhancing the synergy between the team and its major league big brother.

The new logo depicts a modern fighter pilot, with the Summerlin backdrop reflected on his helmet visor. Not everybody on hand seemed initially thrilled with it.

The new colors of navy blue, orange and yellow — the 51s had a royal blue and silver scheme, the Stars orange and brown — bring to mind those of the Houston Astros during their horizontal jersey stripe days of the 1970s.

“I like the colors a lot,” Logan said. “You look at the way the orange pops off that blue, it’s cool.”

The ceremony attracted a throng of spectators, Hughes Corp. dignitaries, baseball officials and former Las Vegas players.

“This is a big day,” PCL commissioner Branch Rickey III said. “The new ballpark going up in the new location — these are monumental changes for the team in Southern Nevada. To add onto that a new major league partner, the Oakland A’s, then to have a new name, the whole package. This is a tremendous refreshment, I think you would say.”

Souvenir sales brisk

In April 2013, the 51s were purchased by Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of Hughes Corp. and investors known as Play Ball Owners Group, with intentions of moving the team to a new ballpark in Summerlin. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved a 20-year, $80 million naming rights agreement in October 2017 to help finance the new ballpark.

Fans who scurried to the new team shop after the unveiling seemed more interested in purchasing Aviators caps and T-shirts than events leading to the move to Summerlin.

“I think it’s great,” Eric Roberts said of the new nickname and colors. “Southern Nevada colors, really fits where we’re at here in Summerlin. It’s an exciting new name, really modern and cool.”

What about the logo?

“You had to look at it a little while to see that LV in there,” he said. “But it’s pretty cool.”

Roberts, who lives in Summerlin Hills and was a 51s’ season ticket holder, was shopping in the team store with his daughter, Sydnee. They appeared to be clutching a couple of hundred dollars worth of Aviators souvenirs.

“We’re gonna buy some hoodies and T-shirts and probably some hats, for Christmas,” he said.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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