" Fast forward to 2019, and the 51s built themselves a new stadium in Downtown Summerlin, Las Vegas Ballpark, and rebranded themselves as the Las Vegas Aviators. "

— Kalin Sokell

They were the Las Vegas Stars from 1983-2000. Then with the conspiracy theories about Area 51 being a secret government base where aliens are located came the Las Vegas 51s from 2001-2018. This was all at Cashman field which is also the current home of the Las Vegas Lights, a minor league soccer team in Las Vegas. Fast forward to 2019, and the 51s built themselves a new stadium in Downtown Summerlin, Las Vegas Ballpark, and rebranded themselves as the Las Vegas Aviators. The Aviators’ name was not well received at first but quickly became a fan favorite. It makes sense because Howard Hughes, the developer that owns the Aviators, was a pilot and into aviation. Also, Las Vegas is home of Nellis Air Force Base which holds the largest and most demanding air combat training mission in the world.

The team and its name has become a favorite of the locals. They are a AAA baseball team, the highest division in the minor leagues. They also have a winning record, topping the Pacific Coast League standings with an 80-53 record as of August 17, 2019. This is happening without having a single player named to the PCL all-league team. However, their manager, Fran Riordan, was just named the manager of the year. He guided them from last place, at the start of the year, to first place. 

Fran Riordan had to manage the team through an injury to one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Catcher Sean Murphy, who was injured early in the season. He also had to deal with Skye Bolt being called up to the majors for a week. But he’s also had the luxury of coaching former New York Met ace pitcher, Matt Harvey, as he was claimed off-waiver by the Oakland Athletics in early August 2019. Harvey was named a National League All-Star with the Mets in 2013 with a 2.01 ERA and a 0.931 WHIP. However, his career started fading away after that. He did this all in a new city he loves. He coached and played in the independent leagues for over 16 years but has managed in the Athletics minor leagues for six seasons, including the past two for their AAA team.

He helped move the team to Las Vegas from another growing city in Nashville. The agreement between the Athletics and the Howard Hughes Corporation was announced in September of 2018 with the new stadium featuring a pool that can be rented out as well as a splash pad for the kids. It is a one-of-a-kind ballpark with numerous “Only in Las Vegas” facets. The scoreboard is also one of the largest in minor league baseball and is larger than a few major league parks. Las Vegas Ballpark was voted as the number one minor league ballpark by fans in 2019.

It has been rumored that the college baseball world series might be hosted at the ballpark one day. The 2020 Triple-A National Championship Game, where the winner of the PCL plays the top team from the International League, will be played at Las Vegas Ballpark. It is truly a ballpark that is highly regarded in all of baseball.

The Aviators last game is September 2nd at home verses last place Tacoma Rainiers. Tickets start at $15 with several games remaining. Head to https://www.milb.com/las-vegas/schedule for their schedule.