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A stadium plan in Las Vegas?

May 10, 2011, 8:23 AM EDT

Welcome to Las Vegas sign

I’ve long been skeptical of the idea of Major League Baseball moving to Las Vegas. Mostly because I don’t see the economics working out.

The economy is in the toilet. Those who do have jobs and homes that aren’t in foreclosure work a disproportionate number of nights. While there are a lot of moneyed tourists coming through, they’re coming to gamble and party, not sit at a ballpark. And even if they were so inclined, you can bet that the casinos would try extra hard to keep them away from doing things that take them off hotel property for three prime time hours each night.  Baseball is not event-driven like boxing or even football. There are 81 home games a year and attendance and television ratings are built on locals buying in to the product day-in, day-out, and that’s not really the Las Vegas profile.

But that doesn’t mean that someone won’t try.  Reader Rob Browne alerted me to this story that appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal over the weekend. It’s about developer Chris Milam’s plan to buy the Las Vegas 51s (which he just did) and use them — as well as a Major League Soccer team and, hopefully, an NBA team — to anchor a mega sports complex west of Mandalay Bay, right across the freeway.  There’s an artist’s rendering of the complex in the linked article. For baseball purposes, here’s the kicker:

With a 9,000-seat ballpark for the 51s, the proposed center, which will be located on a 63-acre parcel, will feature a 17,500-seat arena designed to house an NBA basketball team and a 36,000-seat stadium for a Major League Soccer squad … The two partially enclosed stadiums will be designed to allow expansion. The ballpark could expand to 36,000 seats to accommodate a Major League Baseball team.

None of that eliminates the demographic challenges baseball in Las Vegas faces. And, if you read the article you can see that such a plan faces all of the usual political and economic hurdles that prevent sexy artist’s renderings from becoming reality.

But the notion of a half-step on the stadium side with an existing, ready-for-expansion building could move the needle a bit in Las Vegas’ direction as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, making a relocation there a bit less of a risk for whoever might consider it.

  1. RedHeadedBastard - May 10, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    Pete Rose’s dream come true.

  2. thebravehomer - May 10, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    They’re not serious about this, notice there’s no room for parking? This happens every few years in Vegas, remember the $4 billion Ultimate Sports Resort from five years ago? That land’s bank owned, they probably needed some sort of plan in order to get financing to purchase the land.

  3. spudchukar - May 10, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    All valid concerns Craig, but if I am not mistaken the AAA team draws reasonably well.

    • spudchukar - May 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      OK, I take it back. Maybe I outta check the facts before postulating. The Las Vegas AAA team is only drawing about 330,000 fans a year, less than half of more deserving cities like, Columbus or Sacramento.

      • brucewaynewins - May 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        Columbus won’t get a team. It’s in the area that both Cleveland and Cincinnati have rights to. I’d be shocked to see even one of those teams give that up.

      • Craig Calcaterra - May 10, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        As I Columbus resident, I feel obliged to agree. Columbus’ size is misleading. It ranks high on city-size rank, but that has a lot to do with an aggressive annexation policy that has led to a huge area within the city limits but limited suburban sprawl. So while the city ranks 15th or 16th in size — bigger than both Cleveland and Cincy — as a metro area it’s like 29th or something, which is much smaller than those places.

        Columbus supports the Clippers well, but I don’t think it’s large enough — or, frankly, interested in baseball enough — to support a major league team, even if it were possible (which for the reasons brucewaynewins notes, it is not)

      • spudchukar - May 10, 2011 at 2:19 PM

        I really didn’t mean to suggest that baseball ought to expand to Columbus or Sacramento, just their attendance figures, at the top of AAA, make them deserving. It was meant as a compliment to those communities who support baseball so well.

        While I’m at it, what’s up with Cincinnati?

      • BC - May 10, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        How big is the AAA team’s stadium. If they’re drawing 100% of capacity, that’s much different than if they’re drawing 40%.

  4. BC - May 10, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Baseball with a gametime temperature of 108. What could go wrong?
    They’d be better off putting a team in Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham.
    Or heck, Hartford has space to build something right near the UConn football stadium. There’s a Cabella’s right there. How could THAT not possibly succeed? Oh yeah, right, this is Connecticut….

  5. brucewaynewins - May 10, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Craig, what do you think the possibility is that Casino’s buy season tickets, box seats, and such to give to to High Rollers?

  6. natstowngreg - May 10, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    MLB must love this. They need at least one market trying to get a relocated team. So MLB uses that market to pressure (some would call it blackmail) an existing market to get a new ballpark (see Rays, Tampa Bay).

    However, one has to wonder how much leverage Las Vegas would really give them, and whether there are any other viable markets left.

  7. joelthomas47 - May 11, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    Are you looking to refinance your mortgage? Best way is to contact at least three to five lenders for input on mortgage programs and rates. Also search online for “Mortgage Refinance 123” since refinanced my loan to 3.29% with my OK credit history.

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