Image credit: Don Logan
Through different ownership groups and major league affiliations, Don Logan has been the constant in Las Vegas pro baseball since its inception.
Though Logan’s leadership has long been appreciated in his organization and community, the unveiling of his crowning achievement, Las Vegas Ballpark, has earned him national recognition, including the Baseball America Minor League Executive of the Year award.
The new ballpark opened this year to rave reviews and Minor League Baseball’s largest total attendance. It was the culmination of 15 years of work by Logan and the Triple-A franchise he leads.
Along with the new park came a whole new brand identity—Las Vegas Aviators—and a new relationship with the parent Athletics. The park—named through an agreement with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority—is Logan’s magnum opus, a night-and-day change from their former home and the realization of Logan’s vision of the park as the best venue in the minor leagues.
“This was the toughest thing I’ve ever tackled. This was two full years, all day, every day. I’m talking seven days a week, something was going on with the ballpark,” he said. “My wife, she didn’t see much of me the last couple years. She’s a superstar.”
Under the club’s previous ownership, Mandalay Baseball, Logan worked on new facilities in Dayton, Ohio, and Frisco, Texas. The experience netted valuable insights on park design but also crystalized his drive to move his team out of Cashman Field, a park that was long in the tooth and long surpassed by other Triple-A facilities.
The groundwork for the new park started in 2004 and went through two different attempts that ended in failure before coming to fruition on Opening Day this year. Through endless negotiations about location, who would pay and how much, Logan stuck to his vision.
“It’s a baseball town; just look at the number of good major league players from the area,” Logan said. “Baseball is the No. 1 sport. We needed to get a state-of-the-art facility.”
That facility now exists in Summerlin, west of the city toward the Red Rock Canyon. While Logan was quick to say that construction of the park was a team effort, Logan’s influence on the facility can be found in many of its details, like the wide concourse that fully encircles the playing field and the seating atop the 14-foot wall in left field. The latter was inspired by Logan’s experience sitting atop the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Above those seats looms the largest video board in the minors at 130 feet wide. Nearby, there’s a 60-person pool with an adjacent bar and a sweeping view over the outfield.
“We got the benefit of seeing and talking to everyone who built ballparks over the last 10 years, making the fan experience better,” Logan said of the process. “The downside of it was, we had to wait a long time to get a new ballpark. If you told me it was going to take 14-15 years, I wouldn’t have believed it, but it did.”
Las Vegas Ballpark is not just a treat for fans. Its player facilities are nice enough that, when combined with the record crowds, Oakland’s major league players on rehab assignment were telling Logan that the only thing better about playing in Oakland compared to Las Vegas “was payday.”
While naturally not as ornate, the visitors’ clubhouse was also a priority for Logan.
“To me, teams are on the road, you have to have it be comfortable for them while they’re there,” he said. “You want to be a good host, much like anyone who comes to your home.”
Logan said that much of the splendor of the new park was made possible by the Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the park and is part of the joint venture which owns the team. The company was willing to invest in perks like 4Topps mesh seating that can keep fans much cooler in the desert heat.
“They didn’t skimp,” Logan said. “We didn’t step over dollars to pick up dimes.”
Logan has also appreciated the experience of working with Oakland’s management team, particularly the regular contact it affords him with his longtime friend Sandy Alderson, now a senior adviser to Billy Beane. Logan believes their affiliation with the A’s was part of what made the Aviators such a big draw as the team surged to an 83-win season and a Southern Division title in the Pacific Coast League.
“The baseball side, particularly in the last few years, a lot of people put it on the back burner,” Logan said. “When you’ve got good, interesting players and you win, I think that adds to the experience.”
But the A’s can’t take credit for the new park. For that, credit the Herculean efforts of Logan and his team. While he’s hoping to see his wife Jennifer with more regularity now that the new park is open, his work is never finished.
Logan continually seeks to improve results for Las Vegas fans, players and the business he’s been a key component of for 36 years and counting.
“The experience, as it is, is very good. But you can always get better,” he said. “You can always keep learning.”