A morning stroll with 51s president Don Logan at dream home

Updated June 23, 2018 - 11:48 pm

He begins or ends each day in the same manner, heading down Charleston Boulevard, turning on a side street adjacent to Pavilion Center Drive, a ground ball to the tables at Red Rock Resort, a slap shot from all that is the Golden Knights and City National Arena, a long toss from the shops and restaurants of Downtown Summerlin.

He parks in what one day will be center field, below what soon will be the best scoreboard in the best Triple-A ballpark minor league baseball knows, turns off the engine and stares ahead, at decades of exasperating sweat and determination and hard work, at that which he never gave up hope, despite all the seemingly impossible hurdles to conquer.

“It’s a four-minute drive, five if I miss the light,” Don Logan said.

From the house?

“From Starbucks.”

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.

And, apparently, a Venti Pike with nonfat milk.

He can see it now. Smell it. Taste it.

Or is that just a new and improved concessions menu along with a new and approved, um, everything?

He’s talking about things like slab on grade and casting and excavation and value engineering, the latter not his favorite term but a necessary ingredient to raise this 10,000-seat, $150 million structure.

Logan is the longtime president and chief operating officer of the 51s, the team that will have a new affiliate and nickname and logo upon opening the Las Vegas Ballpark next season, a totally fresh identity for its stunning jewel of a home.

He deserves those morning and evening parking sessions more than anyone else, because he didn’t just stay the course on this project — he lived and breathed every frustrating ounce of it.

Year after year, somehow making things work at the mausoleum that is Cashman Field.

Owner after owner.

Broken political handshake after broken political promise.

He stood there one morning this past week, on what will be a concourse directly behind what will be home plate, his voice growing more excited with each description, from suite and club levels to cornhole for adults and splash pads for kids, from party decks to outfield bleachers like at Fenway Park, from that 36-foot high, 124-foot long scoreboard to state-of-the-art weight and training facilities.

To a swimming pool beyond the outfield wall.

If he’s not the first to take a ceremonial plunge, then someone has made a grave and foolhardy error as to who is most worthy.

That, and I really want to see Logan attempt a reverse 3½ somersault with a half twist off one of those party decks.

“You want to create destinations within the ballpark where people want to go,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is a business and we need to figure out ways to generate revenue. Lord knows, at Cashman, we figured out how to get by on a shoestring. It’s about time we get to experience some of the things everyone else has for years.”

Finally, it’s here

It was going to happen in 1995, when Logan wanted to build a new stadium for a major league team to hold spring training. It was going to happen in the early-to-mid 2000s, when a rental car tax was approved to fund ballparks in Las Vegas and for a team in Reno, which became the Aces.

The north got its ballpark.

Las Vegas got the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

It was going to happen a lot over 23 years.

But it’s happening now under the ownership of The Howard Hughes Corp., under names such as David Weinreb and Kevin Orrock and Tom Warden. It’s taking shape with each pour of concrete.

The idea, hope, goal — prayer? — is for the ballpark to be ready for the 2019 season opener in April, and by then the new affiliate and nickname and logo will have been revealed.

And by then, a 59-year-old president and COO will have stopped taking another kind of daily drive, one where it wasn’t about checking on party decks and outfield bleachers like at Fenway Park, but rather if the sewers had backed up again in each dugout overnight.

“In 35 years, I haven’t missed many days,” Logan said. “I had the flu once. My mom passed away. I travel. But you can’t do something for 35 years and not miss it. There is a homeless guy down (near Cashman) who I have probably given $10,000 to over the years. Now, I only give him water. I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m done giving you money.’

“But this new ballpark is going to be a paradigm shift, a complete game changer. There have been a lot of bumps in the road, but I’m an optimist. I always figured there was a way.”

He can see it now. Smell it. Taste those new food options.

All the while, parked in his car each day, a dreamer whose great dream is unfolding before his eyes, one sip of a Venti Pike at a time.

Good for Don Logan.

Here’s to always making that light and four-minute drives.

More 51s: Follow Las Vegas 51s coverage at reviewjournal.com/51s and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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