Las Vegas Ballpark – Las Vegas Aviators
Photos by David Berger, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Las Vegas Ballpark 1650 S Pavilion Center Dr Las Vegas, NV 89135
Year Opened: 2019
Las Vegas Shiny New Ballpark
While Las Vegas’ professional baseball history stretches all the way back to 1947, and the Wranglers of the Sunset League, the modern era of affiliated ball begins here in 1983, when the Spokane Indians franchise of the Pacific Coast League relocated to the area as the Las Vegas Stars.
From 1983 to 2018, the franchise, first as the Stars from 1983-2000, then later playing under the name of the Las Vegas ‘51’s from 2001-2018 played in Cashman Stadium. With a relatively new affiliate (the Oakland A’s replaced the Mets who left after 6 years), a rebrand to the Aviators launched in conjunction with the new stadium. Aviators is a reference to the partial ownership by the Howard Hughes Corporation, and the renowned billionaire’s longstanding influence in shaping modern Las Vegas.
Food & Beverage 4
The Aviators are taking Las Vegas’ elevated standards for hospitality seriously, by focusing on what they call “Better Basics.” There’s really something for everyone, but you need to explore the stands along the concourse to experience it all. There are a few interesting items in carts along the concourse, like shaved ice ($6-$9) and cold brew coffee ($5-$7). Behind home plate are the two primary concession areas… One is primarily for beer options, and another for food. Additional grill stands are behind each of the outfield corners. Souvenir cup soda and beverages are self-serve, creating a “all you can drink” option. Considering the heat in Nevada, it’s probably a good idea to let patrons stay hydrated for one price.
The main food stand utilizes a unique service plan. Orders are taken at the front of the stand, but food delivery is entirely separate. You walk down a few yards to the other end and hand over your receipt for food delivery. It wasn’t a very busy day, so this didn’t create any issues, but we wonder how this works in a high volume scenario. While it might expedite the ordering process, if the backup comes at food delivery, it may be a tougher experience for fans. We also didn’t see much automation to sending the orders from the register to the kitchen, so hopefully that’s happening as well, to expedite food prep, and the receipts are only to get the right food to the right patron.
At the club and suite level, things are more refined. They are partnering with celebrity chefs to truly serve an upscale menu when you’re entertaining. The main club has an upscale buffet that serves an excellent brunch for a day game (in addition to a few ballpark standards). In addition, servers in the suites will bring your items to the seats so you don’t have to miss a second of the action on the field.
Summerlin, Nevada is about 25 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, and they’ve chosen to eschew the bright lights or neon that could have easily been the thematic center of the ballpark, instead sticking fully to the Aviators theme. The profile of the upper deck has the outline of an old school airplane hangar, and the signage throughout the park is clear and large, like an airport, but without the clutter of a million gates.
The concourse is wide and has plenty of overhead fans, keeping it cool. For an early season game, the heat wasn’t a factor, but making sure you have shade will be key to the long term success of attracting fans. In the lower bowl, sitting back towards the concourse offers the best opportunity for your seats to be shaded, as well as most seats on the club level.
There are a number of rentable party decks, but the coolest option would be to rent out the pool in right center field. The ball does seem to travel here, and during our visit, we saw a “splash HR,” which would likely be a thrilling opportunity for a pool party guest.
The seats are also unique, as they’ve bypassed traditional plastic stadium seats that could scorch in 100 degree weather, and instead have opted for a mesh material that would be more like patio furniture. It will be interesting to see how these seats hold up over time, but they are certainly a welcome innovation from the fan perspective, as they are much more comfortable than a plastic seat as well.
This rating is based entirely on Summerlin, where the ballpark is based, and not Las Vegas proper, which has access to every amenity imaginable. Summerlin itself is a typical suburban community. The park is currently surrounded by a long entrance drive (which will eventually be built up with more retail or amenities) and a sea of parking.
Directly to the west, however is the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, as well as a commercial district with a movie theater and typical chain shopping and restaurants. This can provide a nice “off-strip” base, if you want to experience some of the action of Las Vegas, without the commotion and higher prices on the Strip.
Being as new as it is, Las Vegas Ballpark has not really established a fan identity, and it may be difficult to do so, as Las Vegas baseball always has a few things working against it. While millions of people come in and out of McCarran airport every year, tourists don’t always make for either great baseball fans or are willing to venture far from their planned destination.
Additionally, considering all the nightlife options a town like Las Vegas pouts in front of its visitors, driving out to the ballpark might be a difficult sell on a weeknight.
So far, it really feels more like the plan is for a local family oriented destination, and it will take some time for the Summerlin crowd to establish who they are, and how they’re able to support the team.
Once you’re off the Las Vegas Strip, travelling around the area is really very easy. Traffic is light and the grid-like nature of the roadways makes for multiple options to reach your destination. However, this isn’t really a public transportation focused venue, so you’ll need a car or taxi/rideshare to attend. Take Highway 215 from the East, or use highway 159 for a more local route.
Parking is free, and is exclusive to the ballpark and an easy walk to the gates.
Return on Investment 3
Las Vegas is an expensive town, but relatively, a game at the Las Vegas Ballpark is quite reasonable. Food and beverage options are typical for minor league baseball, and there’s a lot to choose from. Right now, tickets can be a little hard to come by, as there is a strong corporate season ticket base, but there is a vibrant secondary market on the different ticket exchanges. Prices should come down a bit as the newness and curiosity wears off.
You’re in the Las Vegas area, so literally just about any experience in the world is for sale. In the ballpark itself, they are utilizing celebrity chefs like Giada De Laurentis, and cocktails from a master mixologist. Guest chefs will be a regular occurrence as well. At the same time, there’s a kids only value meal that includes a hot dog, apple slices, chips and a drink for only $7.
The team store is tucked behind a non-descript door on the concourse, and can be easy to miss. They have a good selection of team apparel and fan gear, but this will likely improve over time as well, once the team learns preferences of their fans in the new park, and in interacting with the new identity.
In the surrounding area, check out the Neon Museum (which includes some old baseball themed neon from an old club). The Mob Museum details the area’s long history with organized crime, as well as having a ticket on display from the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series.