Seven Questions for Don Logan, 51s Executive

Logan on his 30 years on the job, the team’s potential move to Summerlin and finally shooting down that alien nickname


Photo by Anthony Mair

Don Logan has been associated with Las Vegas’ Triple-A baseball club for the past 30 years, from ticket manager to general manager to executive vice president. During those three decades, rare has been the day when the affable Tonopah native has been spotted at Cashman Field without a smile on his face. These days, Logan has even more reasons to grin: Last month, after being on the market for nearly two years, the 51s were sold for $20 million from Stevens Baseball Group to the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club, a joint venture between the Howard Hughes Corporation and Play Ball Owners Group. The upshot of the deal: The franchise is now in position to move from Cashman Field—where the team has played since its inception in 1983—to a state-of-the-art stadium in the suburbs. It’s a move Logan, who on June 3 was promoted to president and COO, has been advocating for more than a decade.

Where do things stand right now with moving from Cashman Field to Summerlin?

It’s time for all of the stakeholders involved in this to sit down and figure out how to make it happen. I think there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that this facility is substandard, both from a player-development standpoint and from a fan standpoint. The opportunity in Summerlin would be a game-changer, not only for this franchise, but really for [the Pacific Coast League] and for professional baseball.

This is one of the most visible cities in the world … and Vegas needs to have a state-of-the-art showpiece. We need to have the type of stadium that a city like this, and the people of this city, deserve. Cities like Albuquerque figured out how to do it; Round Rock, Texas, figured it out; El Paso is breaking ground today; Salt Lake’s got it; Reno’s got it.

We’ve got all the right pieces in place; now we just have to come up with a plan everybody can live with.

Will taxpayers be asked to pick up part of the tab for a new stadium?

You know, the whole plan is still to be determined. There’s any number of ways you can do it. And honestly we have not sat down since we finalized the sale to really talk about that. But everything’s on the table.

What’s your response to those who enjoy coming to games at Cashman and say, “What’s so bad about this place?”

You’ve got about 6,000 metal-bench seats that are numbered 1 through 20, and there’s no way it can hold 20. They sit out there in the heat all day long and become like a microwave. And the way the [stands] are designed … you’ve got to tweak your body to watch the game if you’re sitting on one of those metal benches. Also, there’s inadequate restroom facilities, way inadequate concession facilities, the concourse is too narrow and the sight lines aren’t that good—if you’re sitting too far underneath [the overhang], you can’t see pop-ups or fly balls.

The Convention Authority [which owns Cashman Field] has done everything they can to make this work, but these are probably the worst player amenities in Triple-A baseball. … I just talked to a guy with the Blue Jays, who spent $11 million on their draft last year. You spend $11 million on players, you’ve got to have state-of-the-art training facilities, hydrotherapy, weight training, video stuff—everything that’s new and modern and common in today’s game we don’t have.

Is renovating and modernizing Cashman still a possibility, or is it a case of too little, too late?

We’ve looked at it, and it’s cheaper to do a new one than it is to fix this one. The problem here is you’ve got a theater, you’ve got a convention center, you’ve got meeting rooms—this isn’t just a ballpark. And everybody’s losing sight of that.

Also, you want to have a place where people can come before the game and get something to eat or mill around—make it an outing of not just get in your car, drive here, look at all the dilapidated buildings, go to the game, get back in your car and leave. That’s not the experience that works. It’s about coming early, watching the game, having someplace to go afterward—that’s part of what gets more people coming more often, when it’s not just the game that’s the attraction.

Are you concerned that such a move would alienate fans in other parts of the Valley, particularly in Henderson?

Actually, as soon as we’re done, I’m going to walk out and I’m going to drive from Cashman Field to over by the District [in Green Valley], and then I’m going to drive to Summerlin. And I’ve already done this, but it’s easier and takes less time to go from Green Valley to Summerlin than to go from Green Valley to Cashman. The mileage may be a little more, but not much more. But it’s going to be easier for people from Henderson to get to the Summerlin site then it is to get here. Now if you live around [Downtown] or in the northeast part of the Valley, it’s going to be tougher, there’s no denying that. But something’s gotta give.

The franchise landed here in 1983, and you arrived a year later. What’s more of a surprise: that the team is still here or that you’re still here?

Oh, me. And I’ve had a lot of interesting opportunities and propositions. But when you’re a small-town guy like I am, you learn to be loyal, you learn to be patient—although my wife would challenge that patience thing—and you learn to appreciate what you’ve got. The old saying is, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it and take care of it.”

I always wonder, “What if?” A couple of [job opportunities] probably would’ve played out to a much bigger, high-profile role at a major league club. But I made the choice, and you can’t live in the past and you can’t have any regrets. But am I surprised? Yes, very.

Let’s say the new owners came to you tomorrow and asked you to pick a new name for their franchise. How would you answer?

Can’t wait! Nobody has seen more baseball here than me, so I certainly should have a say in it. But really, I think that’s something for the fans to pick. The uproar [over changing the name in 2001] from the Stars has kind of subsided, but I go speak at Rotary Clubs and stuff, and they still frickin’ hate it. It’s amazing!

How big of a deal is it that the team is once again owned by local investors?

That’s kind of the whole foundation of minor league baseball, all over the country. You’ve got teams that are corporately owned or owned by out-of-town entities, but the really successful minor league franchises have a connection to the community that’s hard to get without local ownership. Now you’ve got the best of both worlds from a private business standpoint with great connections [Play Ball Owners Group], a great network in the community, and then you’ve got the Howard Hughes Corporation with their pedigree.

How much is the need for a new stadium tied to attracting a desirable major league parent club?

It’s a big part of it. The Dodgers [who were affiliated with the 51s from 2001-08] made it blatantly clear: They left because of the stadium. They liked the proximity of Vegas; they liked the fan base, with so many Dodgers fans here; they liked the size of the market to tap for TV. The positives are significant. But the stadium was so substandard compared to the ballpark [they moved to] in Albuquerque that [leaving here] was just the obvious thing to do.

What city has the best ballpark in the Pacific Coast League?

Round Rock—they nailed it, especially for what would work here. They’ve got a pool—it’s like a kiddie pool, but it works. That’s a great ballpark. Memphis is awesome; they spent a ton of money on that thing, which was part of their big push to get [the NBA’s] Grizzlies. I mean, they’re all good—everybody’s got a better place than us. That’s what annoys you. Frickin’ Omaha built two stadiums: one for the College World Series, one for their Triple-A team. They did that in a two-year turnaround. We can’t get one in 30 years.

Do you see a new stadium, which you’ve been trying to land for years, as part of your legacy?

I don’t know about me personally. I think it’s bigger than me; it’s bigger than any of us. The legacy is it’s what baseball—what our whole industry—can do for the community. Because this is going to be a major league town eventually, and major league sports are going to look at how we handle this deal [to determine] just how viable and how soon it can be before we can be that. To me, that’s a big thing. We’re the one sport that’s worked here long-term. It’s about baseball. It’s not about any one individual.

What’s your most memorable moment in your 30 years with the team?

It was in the early 1990s, and there was this guy named Captain Dynamite who would set up at second base after a game, put dynamite all around him and blow himself up. And [ESPN Radio host] Colin Cowherd, who was working for us and Channel 3 at the time, ran in with a microphone right after he did it, and said, “Cap’n, can you hear?” And he says, “Yeah, I’ll have a beer.” [Laughs.] It was loud as hell. It was hilarious.

Let’s say you can only buy stock in one young major league player—Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. Who you taking?

Ooh! Well, I’m a Vegas guy, so I’ve got to take Bryce. But you can’t miss on that one. You can’t do what they’re doing at their age and not be legit. Because in today’s game, pitchers will find your hole … but they keep making adjustments. They’re just gifted.

If you’ve ever watched Bryce take [batting practice] out here, it’s stupid. He’s got some thump that you don’t see very often.

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