Summerlin – The Las Vegas Aviators have jumped off to a great start in the Pacific Coast League and are in first place in their division. In their second home game of the season, and on a warm balmy night, perfect for baseball, the crowd got a great show. The volatile winds from the night before had left the area and Finn, the bat-dog, was energized and very much part of the experience.
The national anthem was performed by the children’s choir of the John C. Boss School of Clark County School District, and they nailed it.
On first impressions, the all-important concessions look very-very attractive and savory but come prepared; they have major league prices. The Aviators have put an incredible amount of energy focusing on the fan experience. Professional Sports Catering, the team’s food, and beverage provider has an impressive selection of unique dining options.
Don Logan, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Aviators, should be proud of his vision and accomplishments. He was the driving force to get the state-of-art stadium built. But I urge him to reexamine the price structure of the food offerings and more low-cost selections. A recommendation, make the baseball experience affordable for families and do not become just another corporate ticket, as with the Las Vegas Golden Knights. FYI, the strategic plan for continued baseball success in Summerlin depends on repeat customers.
Baseball cannot grow if you do not include the Father and Son, Mother and Daughter experience-quotient. Dinnertime will be taken up with travel-time, just to get downtown Summerlin. For night games, folks will come hungry, and the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club, LLC, a subsidiary of the Howard Hughes Corporation can still make a reasonable profit with some reasonably priced and healthy concession offerings.
You should arrive extra early at Las Vegas Ballpark to get the limited free parking. The 10,000-fan-capacity stadium has plenty of extra options and amenities. They include 22 suites, party zones, picnic areas, berm seating and even a large pool area beyond the centerfield wall.
Las Vegas is playing in their 37th Pacific Coast League season. True to the long-standing Las Vegas tradition of more is better and over-the-top entertainment promotions; the Aviators offer two mascots. The new mascots are Spruce (an overgrown goose) and Mr. Aviator. In a short time, they have proved very popular. On a business note which includes the all-important pop-culture branding issue, the aviator fighter pilot logo has been getting poor reviews.
For real baseball enthusiasts, catcher Sean Murphy was worth the price of admission. The Wright State University product in southern Ohio threw out a speedster with a perfect throw and hit the first Aviator home run in Las Vegas Ballpark. The HR was a monstrous blast to deep centerfield, and it even was beyond the pool area. It would not surprise me if Murphy is a soon-to-be call up by the parent club, the Oakland A’s.
The 11-2 victory over the Sacramento River Cats included four triples in one inning by the home team. This was a very rare and exciting baseball feat. Paul Blackburn got the win and only allowed five hits. Shortstop Jorge Mateo was 4-for-5, with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored.
MLB Hall of Famer, Ricky Henderson (60), a roving instructor for Oakland and looking very trim and fit, was on the pregame field playing catch with some Aviators. He still looks like he could compete.
There is limited bus service to downtown Summerlin and because of the time involved, plan accordingly.