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For a team with roots that go back 35 years, the Las Vegas 51s have a lot of “new” news to report.
The Triple-A baseball team has a new big league affiliation, a new stadium under construction, and a new name in the works.
Shortly after the team’s season concluded in September, the 51s announced it would affiliate with the Oakland A’s as its parent club. Executives from both teams say the proximity of Las Vegas and Oakland will make it easier to shuffle players between the clubs and develop a fan base in Southern Nevada.
But beyond the location, Oakland A's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane told KNPR's State of Nevada that it is the relationship between team president Don Logan and the 51s organization that really matters.
“The relationship between the parent club and the minor league is the most important thing,” Beane said.
Beane and Logan said it took only a few minutes of discussion between the two of them to determine it was the right move for everyone involved.
Logan said being affiliated with a team on the other side of the country, which was the case with the Mets and even worse in another country when they were affiliated with the Blue Jays, was difficult.
“It takes a question out of people’s minds," Logan said, "It makes the conversation get back to good, fun, family, wholesome entertainment, which is what we want to provide, which is what baseball is, which is why it has survived for so long.”
Besides that, Logan said the A's organization is one of the best in baseball and it brings an energy that has become infectious in the 51s offices.
“At this level, there is no better organization in terms of putting a good product on the field,” he said.
Beane said one of the biggest drawbacks to minor league baseball in Las Vegas was the stadium. Cashman Field was one of the oldest ballparks in the minors.
Now, the team will take the field next spring at the brand new, state-of-the-art Las Vegas Ballpark going up in Downtown Summerlin, in the west end of the valley. Tom Warden, a senior vice president for Summerlin, said construction is on schedule for the $150 million stadium, set to open in the spring.
“It is really causing a ripple of excitement for this team,” Warden said.
The stadium was recently topped off in a topping-off ceremony. Warden says the stadium will be surrounded by mostly residential development and some small service development like small grocery stores.
One of the biggest complaints about Cashman Field, besides the fact that the facilities for the players were not up to today's standards, was the lack of concession stands.
Warden says that will change at the Las Vegas Ballpark. He said there would be many more points of purchase for food and beverage. Plus, the entire fan experience will be improved.
“You’re talking about the fan experience and you’re enriching the fan experience with food and beverage and a lot more,” he said.
Both Warden and Logan want the experience to be one for the whole family at an affordable price.
The 51s are also rebranding, according to Logan, with a new name and color scheme in the works.
The only hint Logan gave to the new name and color scheme was that would be "compatible" with the Oakland A's.
And while the Oakland Raiders have decided to move to Las Vegas, Beane firmly stated Las Vegas shouldn't start thinking that means the A's will be next.
“The A’s will be staying in Oakland," he said.
(Editor's note: This interview originally aired in October 2018)
Don Logan, president, Las Vegas 51s; Tom Warden, senior vice president, Summerlin; Billy Beane, executive, Oakland A’s
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