Albuquerque outfielder Mitch Jones enjoyed playing for Las Vegas at Cashman Field, which was constructed in 1983. But he said the aging ballpark pales in comparison to his new home, state-of-the-art Isotopes Park, which was built in 2003.
”The facilities in Albuquerque are top notch in minor league baseball,” Jones said, echoing the sentiments of 11 former 51s players on the Isotopes. ”Las Vegas is an unbelievable place to play, if you can keep your mind right and stay out of trouble, with the weather and location. But it would be nice if they had a beautiful ballpark to go with it.”
Isotopes Park has two indoor batting cages, which are connected with a spacious clubhouse, a large family room, weight room, video room and nearby player’s parking lot.
Cashman Field has one outdoor batting cage in the parking lot, a cramped clubhouse and an antiquated weight room.
”It’s actually kind of hard to want to do early work here when it’s 115 degrees outside,” said Isotopes outfielder Jason Repko, who played parts of four seasons for the 51s.
Jones agreed, saying ”Sometimes, when we were here, we wouldn’t come out and hit early because it’s so blasted hot.”
Albuquerque catcher A.J. Ellis, who played for Las Vegas last season, said both cities have pluses and minuses.
”As far as the facilities go, Albuquerque is as nice as anywhere I’ve played in Triple-A baseball,” he said. ”It’s a great atmosphere, they get really great fan support, and the stadium is top notch. The field is phenomenal.
”Some of the negatives have to do with travel. Las Vegas has got the best flights in the league, and some of the housing accommodations for players are probably nicer here.”
Albuquerque is near the top of the Pacific Coast League in attendance, attracting an average of 8,432 fans per game, while Las Vegas is near the bottom, at 4,831 fans per game.
As for the city itself, the players prefer Las Vegas.
But big league clubs such as the Los Angeles Dodgers are more concerned with the amenities available at the park, which is the main reason they ended their eight-year Triple-A affiliation with Las Vegas last year.
51s president Don Logan said at the time he hoped their departure would serve as a "wake-up call" to local politicians to help get a new stadium built in Las Vegas.
He recently took a tour of Reno’s new Triple-A ballpark with Mayor Oscar Goodman and other local officials and said they all came away impressed.
”Oscar could be the key guy. I think he’s more willing now than he ever has been,” Logan said. ”He saw how positive a part of the community (Aces Ballpark) has been up there. It’s really reinvigorated downtown.”
Logan said a new stadium in Las Vegas still is ”at least two, maybe three” years away and added the 51s won’t change their name until they have a new ballpark.
”We should have a state-of-the-art facility here,” he said. ”But we don’t, and as long as we don’t, there’s a chance we’ll be a revolving door for major league affiliates.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS — 5
ALBUQUERQUE — 2
KEY: Marty McLeary held the Isotopes to one run in seven innings and had seven strikeouts for the 51s, who scored four runs in the fifth inning.
NEXT: (RHP Tim Corcoran) at 51s (LHP Fabio Castro) 7:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (790)