Take Me Out to the Ballpark!

Take Me Out to the Ballpark!
By J. Tyge O’Donnell

 It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago the location of the new Las Vegas Ballpark was a barren expanse of dirt and gravel. All that changed with a groundbreaking ceremony on February 13th, 2018, when construction began with upwards of 500 workers laboring over two daily shifts to finish the venue in time for the 2019 season. Building a Minor League ballpark in a year is a huge undertaking and, up until now, was unheard of until general contractor Hunt/PENTA pulled it off– and in typical Las Vegas “over the top” fashion. The new Las Vegas Ballpark is simply gorgeous; the club house looks like a modern airport terminal and the facility has everything a ball club needs and wants, which the outdated Cashman Field lacked. As one Aviator player said during a pre-opening media event, “It’s the Taj Mahal of Minor League ballparks.”  

 A Ballpark for the Fans 

Located on eight acres adjacent to Downtown Summerlin and City National Arena (the Vegas Golden Knights practice facility), Las Vegas Ballpark is a $150 million dollar, brand-spanking new 10,000 seat stadium that replaces Cashman Field as our home venue for our Oakland A’s Triple-A affiliate team, The Las Vegas Aviators. Note that Las Vegas now has two Oakland team connections with this ball club and next year’s arrival of Raiders football!

The ballpark bests the rest of the Minor League parks and even rivals some Major League stadiums with all its amenities and offerings. The huge (31’ x 126’) LED scoreboard is the largest of its kind in the minor leagues and 21st in size of all the ballparks in the country. Seating throughout the venue (no benches here!) utilize mesh “air-flow” technology that’s typically 30-50 degrees cooler than traditional stadium seating…a welcomed and comfortable perk considering our extreme summer heat. There are also 130 closed circuit TVs scattered around the venue so you can catch the action wherever you are…and that’s a luxury found primarily in big league stadiums!

The concourse is 360 degrees, as one can walk a complete lap of the field perimeter with bars, bathrooms, food stations and gift shops always close by. There’s a centerfield beyond-the-wall swimming pool with cabanas that can be rented for a mere $2,000 and can host up to 50 of your friends. Also, beyond the wall is a grassy picnic area and a “Kids’ Zone” for the little ones to frolic and play while you’re waiting to catch a flyball from a home-run hit!

Ticket prices tend to vary per game, but a quick online search yielded seats starting as low as $15 and increasing exponentially depending on the section and club/suite level. Group rates are available, as are season ticket packages, but this season sold out and there’s now a waiting list for the 2020 season.

Bring Your Appetite!

The new stadium knocks it out of the park when it comes to food, snacks and libations. Headed up by Minor League Stadium culinary gurus Professional Sports Catering (a subsidiary of Levy Restaurants) PSC has networked with local Vegas restaurants to bring fans some of their best dishes to the park. Chef Brian Howard (Sparrow & Wolf) has three “Flydog” locations around the main concourse that offer gourmet hotdogs and sausages (try the traditional-with-a-twist Chicago Smokehouse dog), while Josh Clark’s The Goodwich has a build-your-own Mac & Cheese station with a variety of exotic toppings offered.

On the suite and club levels, Food Network personality and local Italian restaurateur Giada De Laurentiis has salads, orzo meatballs and specialty pizzettes that pair nicely with her fruity Frosé, the official cocktail of the ballpark. If you’re more of a beer drinker, try the Aviators Ale supplied by local brewery Tenaya Creek. Also, all Thursday games are $2 beer nights! Other Las Vegas food favorites such as Capriotti’s, Ferraro’s and Me Gusta Taco offer their specialty fare throughout the concourse. And get this, most everything mentioned above is priced between $5-$12–a very reasonable price when compared to other venues.

Let’s Play Ball!

The grand opening first home game against the Sacramento River Cats was April 9th, after the Aviators returned from El Paso, Texas with an impressive 5-1 winning opening season series against The Chihuahuas.

The home opener was sold out nearly beyond capacity with a reported attendance of 11,036 fans. Vegas showgirls walked the concourse offering photo ops with fans while nostalgic “Cold Beer! Peanuts! Popcorn!” chants could be heard from roaming vendors. An Aviators ball cap was given to every ticket holder and the gift shops were packed to the gills with fans buying additional Aviator swag.

Down on the field, Governor Steve Sisolak and LVCVA execs welcomed fans with a pregame ceremony that also introduced the two new mascots: a happy-go-lucky “Spruce the Goose” and “The Aviator”– a mysterious jet-pack clad, futuristic airman who made an impressive entrance by literally flying onto the field with a hi-tech (and loud!) personal jet propulsion system strapped to his back.

Local Hero Hailey Dawson, the young girl who has thrown the ceremonial first pitch at all the MLB Stadiums using her 3D-printed prosthetic hand, christened home plate with her inaugural throw to Hitting Coach Eric Martins. The weather, unfortunately, wasn’t cooperative. High winds had debris blowing around left field and the fans were seeking cover by the third inning. The Aviators and die-hard fans persevered however, and finished the game with a 10-2 win over Sacramento. In the days after, the LV Aviators swept the series against the River Cats and are off to a great start to the season.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how Las Vegas has been exploding with new sports teams. Over the past two years we’ve had the Vegas Golden Knights, the WNBA Las Vegas Aces and the LV Lights FC (who have re-purposed Cashman Field as their own soccer venue) all arrive in town and with welcoming open arms from our community. The Raiders are on their way, too! And now, with the Las Vegas Aviators and our new ballpark, Las Vegas has proven yet again that we continuously raise the bar, go over the top and are “in it to win it!” Here’s wishing the LV Aviators a successful first season. Go out to a game and show your support. Fly high guys!