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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Las Vegas is not considered a sports destination, unless you believe gambling, drinking, and eating to be sports. But there are over 2 million people who live here and they need some distractions of their own. In the summer, the Pacific Coast League's Las Vegas 51s provide the entertainment out at Cashman Field, an older facility that still offers ball fans some quiet enjoyment away from the lights and noise of the casinos.
Owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Cashman Field is located on Las Vegas Blvd., about 8 miles north of the strip. Few tourists know about it and even fewer care, so you can get an authentic local experience and enjoy some quality baseball at the same time.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The options at the concession stands are standard in both selection and price. There is the Angus Beef Burger for $6.50, an all-beef hot dog at $4 and chicken tenders with fries for $6 among other typical fare you would see at any ballpark. There are three concession stands labeled First Base, Home Plate, and Third Base, all of which offer an identical menu.
Normally, such offerings would net a single star here, but Cashman also has a club restaurant that is not well-advertised but is open to the public. Located on the second story and reached by elevator or a set of ramps, the restaurant requires a ticket to sit by the window, but also has large tables that provide a limited view of the action and are free to anyone. The best part is that you can enjoy a real meal here. For just $9.50, you can choose an entree that is accompanied by a soup and salad. I had roast pork loin with rice, and jerk chicken was another choice. The whole combo was tasty and a welcome change from the usual boring ballpark blech. I recommend getting to the park early and dining here first before it gets crowded.
Beverage options are mostly beer, but there is also the Skyy Bar above third base which provides a complete view of the field and the mountains beyond and offers other options if you are looking for libations.
Cashman Field is a sand and rust colored structure befitting its desert location. It is connected to the convention center on the third base side so you can't walk around the whole ballpark. There is a single entrance that leads to ramps that go up to the main concourse, a rarity in minor league parks.
There is a single seating bowl beneath the concourse which itself has views of the field from all points, so you don't miss any of the action while buying your food. There are also berms near each foul pole where children can play, but they are too far away to be useful for actually watching the game.
Down the left field line is the Bank of America Patio, which takes up a large amount of foul territory but provides on-field seating and all-you-can-eat ballpark food for groups.
The scoreboard is fairly basic with a simple linescore beneath a very old video screen. The pitch speed display is a more recent addition, hanging just beneath the scoreboard. Beyond the fences lie the mountains which can be quite picturesque at sunset.
Weather here can be a factor, especially the wind. It was blowing out in one game I saw, which led to several homers, while in the other game, the wind was blowing in and swirling which resulted in several misplayed fly balls. It also gets cold in the evening here, so bring a sweater if you are attending a night game.
Cashman is an old facility, having been built in 1983, and frankly there are no noticeable renovations since that time. But after visiting so many new parks, it's refreshing to see a place that is simpler and recalls a time when sports were not the money machine they are today. Given that Las Vegas is the city of excess, Cashman is the exception to the rule and a great place to sit back and enjoy baseball.
There is little around the stadium, although the downtown strip is only a mile away. This is a neighborhood park that is designed to be far away from other distractions, so you will probably just drive in and drive out as there is nothing else to see around here.
The stadium seats 9,334 and was about 50% full with a wide variety of fans. Most are locals and cheer their team on heartily, although on dollar beer night, there were also a number of young people just there to get hammered. But generally people were enjoying themselves and a few hecklers were mildly entertaining. One game I saw went 13 innings on a very cold night and there were still several hundred fans left, so I'm giving them an extra star for perseverance.
The stadium is part of the larger Cashman Center, an entertainment facility that includes a theatre and convention center. There are several parking lots surrounding the center that cost $4. The lot off Washington Blvd. seemed less popular and easier to exit to return to the highway and is also closer to the stadium itself.
If you are staying on the strip, you can take Las Vegas Blvd. the whole way if you want to see more of the city but it could take as long as 45 minutes depending on traffic, so a short drive down I-15 to Washington Blvd. (take the D Street exit) is your best bet. It took me less than 15 minutes to get there from the MGM Grand, although rush hour traffic might add a few minutes to your journey.
Restrooms were on the main concourse and were more than enough for the crowd, even on dollar beer night.
Ticket options include dugout seats which are 3 rows of blue seats behind the screen at field ($20), field seats which are the first 6 rows between the bases ($14), plaza seats which are the remaining 20 rows behind the screen ($13) and reserved seats, which are benches that stretch down the lines ($10). The plaza seats are mostly covered and are a good option during day games, when the sun can be particularly strong.
There is a small walkway between the first six rows and the rest of the seating area, so avoid row G unless you want your view continuously disrupted by people walking back and forth. The seating area is not steep, so your view may be blocked if someone sits directly in front of you, but with attendance at 50% of capacity, it's not hard to find a good seat.
The bullpens are right by the seats and you can watch the pitchers warm up from about 2 feet away. Most newer stadiums place the bullpens further away from the fans, so I appreciate the opportunity to scout out the starter before the game.
Given that this is AAA baseball and you can sit pretty much wherever you want for $10 plus $4 parking, I consider Cashman to offer excellent bang for the buck.
The team name is 51s in honor of Area 51, which is about 100 miles outside of Vegas. Their mascot is Cosmo, an alien, but he did little with the fans and the whole extraterrestrial motif has disappeared for the most part.
There are still signs that you are in the Entertainment Capital of the World. The left field foul pole has a sign for a local casino/hotel that includes a shapely lady sitting on an oversized baseball and you can see the Stratosphere Hotel as you walk up the ramp.
When you enter, you may be accosted by people offering you a coupon to spin a wheel. Avoid them; you have to give your personal information and in return you win a useless prize such as free tickets to a show that you would never go to anyway.
I received an excellent giveaway item, a UNLV Rebels replica jersey with the number 51. The 51s have a lot of good giveaways during the season and it's worth checking their promo schedule when planning a trip.
Cashman Field gets a lot of flak for being outdated, but I enjoyed it for that very reason. Nice views of the distant hills from everywhere on the concourse, good food in the club restaurant, and few distractions from the game. The ushers are friendly and let you move around. Most tourists spend their entire time in Vegas on the Strip, so coming out to Cashman is a great way to see more of the city and spend time with the locals without losing your shirt in the process. And if you attend on a giveaway night, you might gain a shirt instead!
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