Dodgers’ exit still a sore spot

Former 51s stars Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are expected to take the field at Cashman Field today, their Triple-A home before the pair moved on to play prominent roles with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They and the other Dodgers are here to play the Cincinnati Reds at 7 p.m. in an exhibition game, and their presence is a painful reminder of how different it all could’ve been.

The 51s’ inability to successfully push for a new stadium chased the Dodgers back to their longtime Triple-A home of Albuquerque, N.M., after the 2008 season, ending an eight-year relationship with Las Vegas that seemed a perfect fit because of the proximity between the two cities.

Making matters worse for the 51s, they aren’t much closer to a new park, leaving president and general manager Don Logan to talk up the merits of Las Vegas’ second-year affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Certainly, the Dodgers being willing to play an exhibition game here helps," Logan said. "I appreciate that. The Dodgers are the dominant team for locals.

"It’s good to have them play here. It’s good for us. It’s good for our fans."

Those 51s fans can see Kemp and Ethier in Dodger blue, but James Loney said he won’t make the trip with his former Las Vegas teammates. Loney also said Manny Ramirez won’t be here.

Logan also has heard from a number of Reds fans interested in seeing Cincinnati, which never has played in Las Vegas. Once the Reds see 27-year-old Cashman Field, no doubt they’ll be grateful to quickly leave one of minor league baseball’s oldest parks.

Because of the economy, Logan knows all he gets are sympathetic nods when speaking to community officials. They are tied up trying to save jobs while dealing with huge budgetary holes.

This isn’t the most convenient time to ask taxpayers to help fund a new stadium, no matter how much Logan talks about the economic impact that could be created by a new facility.

He looks at how the 2-year-old park in Reno has enlivened that city’s downtown. It’s different from the dreary atmosphere at Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue, where Cashman is located.

Logan said having a shining example to point to in Reno "certainly doesn’t hurt."

His best hope could come from an outside source. Different groups have shown interest in buying the Cashman complex, and Logan said the team has an agreement, reached about three years ago, that it would receive a new venue should the place be sold.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has announced he has spoken to the family of the late "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin, about turning the Cashman Center into a zoo that features Australian animals. Bring in the crocs, and Logan can begin looking around for real estate for his club.

But he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, knowing nothing appears close to being done. So Logan waits and hopes.

"We can sit back and whine about (the stadium) not being sufficient," Logan said. "This is the hand we’ve been dealt. We’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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