Visit Las Vegas Ballpark
Welcome to Las Vegas Ballpark, where the amenities are high-end and the burritos have burnt ends. Howard Hughes's legacy looms large at this sleek and streamlined facility, where you can soak in mountain views, take a dip in the pool and hobnob with a goose who once lived in the Bellagio fountain.
Las Vegas Aviators (Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics since 2019)
Established: 1983 (as the Las Vegas Stars)
League: Triple-A West (Pacific Coast League from 1983-2020)
Ballpark: Las Vegas Ballpark (opened 2019)
Championships: 1986, 1988
Notable Alumni: Bruce Bochy, John Kruk, Benito Santiago, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Tony Gwynn, Carlos Baerga
Las Vegas's stature in the sports world has increased greatly in recent years, as the city is now home to the NFL's Raiders and the NHL's Golden Knights. Prior to that, the Minor League Baseball team had been the highest-level athletic attraction in town. The Las Vegas Stars made their debut in the Pacific Coast League in 1983, the first of 18 seasons in which they served as the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The Los Angeles Dodgers became the parent club in 2001, the same season in which the team changed its name to the 51s. This quirky numerical moniker, accompanied by space and alien-themed logos, paid homage to the alleged extraterrestrial activity happening at nearby Area 51.
The Stars/51s played at Cashman Field. This city-owned facility was considered state-of-the-art when it opened in 1983, but as the 21st century progressed it was increasingly seen as a liability. Operational deficiencies combined with a lack of player amenities prompted a long and ultimately successful quest to build a new stadium. Las Vegas Ballpark, located in the affluent planned community of Summerlin, opened in 2019. The new ballpark prompted a new team name: The Aviators. This appellation is an homage to the aviation exploits of Howard Hughes, a name that looms large at Las Vegas Ballpark. The Aviators, and Summerlin itself, are owned by the Howard Hughes Corporation.
The new ballpark and team name were accompanied by a new parent club, the Oakland Athletics. Prior to that Las Vegas had enjoyed affiliations with the New York Mets (2013-'18) and Toronto Blue Jays (2009-'12).
Las Vegas Ballpark
1650 South Pavilion Center Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada
Dimensions: left field, 340 feet; center field, 415 feet; right field, 340 feet
The name Las Vegas Ballpark might conjure images of kitschy neon signage, between-inning Elvis impersonators and slot machines on the concourse. But Las Vegas Ballpark, in real life, is nothing of the sort. This is a ballpark in line with the city's idea of itself as "the hospitality capital of the world." Simply put, Las Vegas Ballpark is the most "Major League" stadium in the Minors.
Summerlin is located on Las Vegas's northwestern edge, with the ballpark itself taking up 7.65 acres of space. City National Arena, the Golden Knights' practice facility, sits just behind a massive steel wall constructed behind the left field concourse. The ballpark's massive video scoreboard, measuring approximately 31 feet high and 126 feet wide, is installed on this steel wall. Sunrise Mountain is located beyond the outfield side of the ballpark, with plenty of open land in between. Parking is free, and the shops and restaurants of downtown Summerlin are in walking distance.
Las Vegas Ballpark is architecturally unique. The top level of the stadium houses the press box, situated under a sloping roof. The press box forms the cockpit of an upper-level "airplane" structure, with the suites on the first- and third-base sides representing the wings. A premium club level area sits below the press box, which includes a massive lounge and a show kitchen for visiting celebrity chefs.
A pool, located in right-center field just beyond the batter's eye, is rented out to groups on a nightly basis. The pool is adjoined by the Hangar Bar, accessible to patrons from both its front and back ends. The pool and bar overlook the visitors bullpen, with the home bullpen located directly in front of the right field berm. These elements, combined, make for a vibrant game day atmosphere.
Las Vegas Ballpark, built on a slope of land descending toward the center of Las Vegas Valley, sits at an elevation of 3,000 feet. This leads to lively baseballs and, by Las Vegas standards, cooler temperatures. Concerns about excess heat are also alleviated by the ballpark's mesh seats, which are approximately 40 degrees cooler than those made out of plastic. Las Vegas Ballpark was the first professional sports venue to exclusively feature mesh seating.
Food is serious business at Las Vegas Ballpark. The Aviators have partnered with a variety of notable Las Vegas chefs and restauranteurs in addition to offering a wide and evolving slate of in-house creations. The end result is one of the most eclectic and high-end concessions lineups in the Minor Leagues. The All-American Burger, comprised of a grind that is 80 percent chuck and 20 percent brisket, is served on a branded bun provided by a local bakery. Other highlights include a full slate of customized hot dogs, a taco cart and offerings from popular local restaurants such as Capriotti's and Frankie's Uptown.
One of Las Vegas Ballpark's most popular offerings is the succulent Burnt End Burrito, available at BBQ Mexicana's Home Run BBQ stand in left field. Don't miss it.
One of Howard Hughes's most spectacular creations was the H-4 Hercules aircraft, known as the Spruce Goose. The Aviators have Spruce the Goose, a high-flying fowl possessing an adventurous spirit and extroverted nature. Before he came to the ballpark, Spruce lived in the fountain of the Bellagio hotel. He is accompanied at the ballpark by the mysterious Aviator, an enigmatic stone-faced fellow equipped with his own jet propulsion system. If the Aviator knows any secrets about Area 51, he isn't telling.
What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, and there's always a lot happening in Las Vegas. Those looking to stray from the well-documented allure of casinos and cabaret would do well to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame. Hundreds of pinball machines are available to play, as well as a strong selection of vintage arcade games. Other offbeat Las Vegas attractions include, but are far from limited to, the Neon Museum, the Liberace Museum and The Haunted Museum. Alternatively, one could leave the city behind in favor of outdoor locales such as the Red Rock Canyon.
Food and Drink
Would you believe that Las Vegas is home to a seemingly inexhaustible supply of restaurants and bars? It's true. The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge is an oasis on the strip, offering hearty meals, top-notch Bloody Marys and the opportunity to relax in front of a fire pit. Sparrow and Wolf offers creative high-end cuisine; the restaurant's chef, Brian Howard, created a line-up of haute cuisine hot dogs for the Aviators during their inaugural 2019 season. If you truly can't get enough, there's always the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.
Believe it or not, Las Vegas has a large number of hotels catering to every taste and budget. As regards to ballpark proximity, please note that the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa is just a short walk away.
The Aviators are one of two Nevada-based Minor League teams, along with the Reno Aces. The drive between these two locales, on Highway 95, is full of rugged scenery and occasionally runs through sparsely populated towns with strange roadside attractions. Who wouldn't want to stay at the World Famous Clown Hotel? One could also head west from Vegas in order to visit the Fresno Grizzlies and Visalia Rawhide, although that route is lengthened by a necessary end around past Death Valley. Further south, one finds the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Inland Empire 66ers and Lake Elsinore Storm.
The Road to Oakland
Players in the Oakland organization log serious miles while climbing the Minor League ladder. The system starts in California and then heads to Michigan, Texas and Nevada before culminating back in the Golden State.
Low-A: Stockton Ports
High-A: Lansing Lugnuts
Double-A: Midland Rockhounds
Triple-A: Las Vegas Aviators