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Las Vegas Ballpark Silence Felt in a Major Way


I’m just going to be flat out honest. I miss baseball. It’s to the point that there is something missing in my day-to-day routine.


I miss driving over to the local McDonald’s every morning for a coffee to meet up with a friend and discuss everything baseball. He would read the newspaper, and I would pull up articles and game recaps on my phone, catching ourselves up on all the moments we missed. Let me tell you; there is nothing better than talking recaps, scores, and the history of the game with someone that knows their baseball better than you. 


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Since it’s June, right about now we would be planning our trips to the Las Vegas Ballpark to watch some games. The Las Vegas Ballpark has become the Mecca for baseball in Las Vegas. Being there is truly a religious experience, but unfortunately, we have yet to have those conversations about attending.

 MiLB’s (Minor League Baseball) opening day was supposed to be April 9th for full-season leagues, and fans of the Las Vegas Aviators were once again going to be able to attend the Las Vegas Ballpark for its sophomore year.

The excitement of the new ballpark was felt all season long in 2019. The Aviators delivered a strong 83-57 effort and shattered records of attendance and expectations, further cementing Las Vegas as a bonafide sports town. 


When Minor league baseball was brought back to Vegas in 1983 (The Stars), a quarter-century since the first minor league team disbanded in 1958 (The Wranglers), Cashman Field was always the ballpark that baseball fans called home. Unfortunately, as the years progressed and Las Vegas expanded and evolved, the area around Cashman never really changed. You might even say it regressed.


Just getting to the ballpark was no easy task at times. Factor in rush hour or just the normal dense traffic of the area, add scorching summer heat on top of that, and you have a casserole of discomfort that could make one just want to stay home and turn on the tv instead. Although, 1$ beer night was always a nice perk. 

For some, it became a commitment that locals often didn’t want to… well… commit to. But the truth was once you were there, you knew you were going to have a good time. So when the Las Vegas Ballpark was announced to be constructed in Summerlin and The Aviators were going to be Vegas’ new minor league team, to say fans were excited was a flat-out understatement. Last year proved that the baseball community was alive and well here in this city. All it needed was a new glove and a new bat.

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Being at the Las Vegas Ballpark was an experience even before the game started. The atmosphere was so alive, and the overall joyful morale made you happy to be a part of something special. I was looking back on some of the broadcasts from last season, and they just don’t do the games any justice. You have to be there. Being there in person just feels more organic and exciting. Plus, you have Finn the bat dog rushing back and forth to home plate, and what’s better than that?

Fans displayed their appreciation for the brand new ballpark and team the best way they knew how: ticket sales. Those ticket sales resulted in a franchise record of 9,200 fans per game in a park that holds 10,000. That’s impressive given that The Aviators are a Triple-A ball club and still bring in those staggering numbers. Families, couples, and most importantly, kids were excited about baseball again. 

It truly is the most beautiful ballpark Las Vegas has ever seen, and everyone was anxiously anticipating the home-opening series against The Colorado Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate, The Albuquerque Isotopes.


Fast forward to 2020, the storm clouds have yet to clear up. The Aviators and MiLB fans are still left in limbo wondering if they will be able to see The Aviators or their favorite teams at all. Just from the daily news, Minor League Baseball is not in a good place right now. 


In the last few weeks, organizations began the process of cutting players. By the time the end of May came around, hundreds of players were already released. The players that remain aren’t in the clear, because they aren’t getting paid to play. Most clubs did, however, decide to continue to pay the $400 weekly payments until the end of June. Some even went further and promised to continue the payments until the end of the scheduled minor league season.

As reported by Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated, It looks as if players are now starting to band together in the form of a coalition called “Advocates For Minor Leaguers.” Co-founded by a lawyer named Garrett Broshuis, they hope to fight for unemployment benefits for all minor league ballplayers. In some States, minor league ballplayers aren’t even eligible to file a claim for unemployment, especially since MLB, for many years, categorized the players as “seasonal apprentices.”


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All that changed in March when Federal Legislation expanded the workers eligible for unemployment, which now includes gig workers and independent contractors. This means minor league players could finally get some love.

What’s still confusing about this whole situation is that there are many different reports predicting the cancellation of the MiLB season, yet all information still remains hearsay. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported via Twitter that there would be “no likelihood” of a MiLB season for 2020 per his source. Yet, looking at StubHub, tickets are still being sold out for July. For each report, there seems to be a counter-report follow-up from another news source. 

In reality, It all depends on what happens with the MLB and the MLBA. The rumor of extended rosters, where players from the minor league’s could be added to MLB’s 26-man rosters, may still be a possibility. Then things get more complicated as Sports Illustrated reported back in March: the Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and the minors is set to expire in September, which was last extended way back in 2011.

There is no doubt MLB is seeking to save costs and plans to cut more than a quarter of affiliated teams by next season. This means league teams could be cut down from 160 to 120 going into the 2021 season.  MLB has also said, as reported by The Athletic, that the eliminated teams could be placed in a structure that could exist independently. Reports state that minor league owners disagreed, stating that teams would not be able to survive without the structure that is in place right now.


Minor League Baseball released a statement after news of the ongoing negotiations was reported that seem to dispute these stories. The statement read:


 “Recent articles on the negotiations between MiLB and Major League Baseball (MLB) are largely inaccurate. There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues. MiLB looks forward to continuing the good faith negotiations with MLB tomorrow as we work toward an agreement that best ensures the future of professional baseball throughout the United States and Canada.” 

As I said before, every time we think we know what’s going on, the lights are turned off and someone steals your favorite autographed baseball from its protective glass case.

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The pandemic left the MiLB, the players, and of course, the fans in a predicament. The amount of profit lost if organizations are not able to capitalize on gate revenue, especially in markets that barely make it by as it is, is a scary thought. It reinforces the belief that MLB will proceed with their demands, and they will cut teams. For us Las Vegas Aviators fans, baseball fans, and avid sports fans, at this point, it is still unknown if baseball will start. Let’s just say if it does, it’s unknown and highly unlikely that people will get to jam pack the ballpark the same way they did in 2019. 

Although, that’s where Las Vegas should be proud. They have ensured that regardless of what happens, and even if there is no baseball at all this season, we will still have a team. Las Vegas fans honored their love of the game by going to the ballpark. MiLB listened to the voices wanting baseball, and you can bet the MLB is listening as well. If we don’t have baseball this year, it will be a sad and long summer, but hope remains high as ever. Because Las Vegas has The Aviators, and The Aviators have us. 

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-Joshua Rushford – Franchise Sports Media

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