The excitement was palpable in Brett Lashbrook’s voice as he spoke.
Now that the Las Vegas 51s will be moving to a new ballpark in Summerlin, likely after the 2018 season, the owner of the expansion United Soccer League team Las Vegas Lights FC will soon be in charge of the sole tenant of Cashman Field.
“We are ecstatic,” Lashbrook, whose team has a 15-year lease agreement for Cashman Field with the city of Las Vegas, said. “It’s fantastic. There’s just something about it when it’s yours and you’re the primary tenant. You just get to make it more special for the fans and for the sport.”
Taking over Cashman Field means soon Las Vegas Lights FC won’t have to take out the pitchers’ mound, cover up the outfield dirt or bring in extra seats before matches, all necessities for its first season in 2018. The USL season lasts from March to September, meaning there will be plenty of overlap with the 51s’ schedule.
“If you’ve never been to a 51s game, you’re not going to know it’s a baseball stadium,” Lashbrook said. “Cashman Field, for whatever reason, is the only baseball stadium ever built that’s a square. It’s perfect for putting a soccer field into that.”
Once the 51s move out though, Lashbrook can focus on making Cashman Field primarily a soccer stadium. While he didn’t want to mention specific changes he had in mind, he said the team will look into changing the venue into a three-sided arena and adding seats and fan zones.
And unlike the 51s, who have been looking to leave Cashman Field for years, Lashbrook spoke glowingly about the location his team will play at.
”That site is a wonderful site in the heart of downtown and downtown is only going to continue to grow,” Lashbrook said. “It’s the intersection of all the neighborhoods of Las Vegas. I think we have a really unique opportunity to do something beyond soccer and bring the community together by using a sport that embraces diversity.”
Lashbrook envisions the team’s supporters marching through Fremont Street before matches and fans celebrating afterwards downtown. The owner said he is excited to bring soccer traditions to Las Vegas, and before long he’ll get to do it in a venue dedicated solely to the sport.
“I keep telling people, ‘I just need you to come to one game,’ ” Lashbrook said. “If you haven’t experienced that soccer culture, if I can get you to one game I know you’re going to come back.”
Las Vegas Soccer LLC, Cashman Field lease breakdown
— Fifteen-year lease (2018-2032) with opt-outs for the city of Las Vegas.
— LV Soccer to cover field conversion expenses from 2018 to 2022.
— LV Soccer to put down $50,000 deposit in case of field damages.
— If 51s leave, LVCVA is the stadium, parking and concessions operator until 2022. The city takes over through 2032.
— LV Soccer has exclusive rights for hosting all soccer events.
— LV Soccer pays rent fee of $6,000 per game for 25 USL/MLS/collegiate matches.
— LV Soccer pays rent fee of $10,000 for non-USL soccer matches. Rate drops to $6,000 if city takes over operations.
— LV Soccer keeps parking and concession revenue.
— City to pay annual LVCVA management fee of $50,000 for handling expenses associated with soccer operations.
— LVCVA to keep LV Soccer’s rent payments to help offset stadium expenses.