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The Las Vegas 51s, formerly known as the Las Vegas Stars, are a minor league baseball team. As of the 2013 baseball season, they are the AAA affiliate of the New York Mets. They play at Cashman Field (capacity 9,334). The team competes in the Pacific Coast League.

The 51s take their name from Area 51 (located in the desert about 80 miles north of Las Vegas), and their logo jokingly depicts one of the "Grey" aliens believed by UFO fans to inhabit that base.

The 51s have won two PCL crowns (as the Stars), in 1986 and 1988. On October 31, 2007, it was announced that the Las Vegas 51s had been sold (pending the regulatory approval of the Pacific Coast League and the Commissioners of Major League and Minor League Baseball) from the Mandalay Group to the Stevens Baseball Group. There are currently no plans to move the team[1], and talks of building a new stadium have been essentially stagnant for the past seven years[2][3]. The team has sold about 5,000 tickets per game on average the last few years[4], but far fewer fans actually attend typical home games.[5] On March 24, 2008 Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the 51s franchise to Stevens Baseball Group.[6]

In April 2013, the team was purchased by Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture of Howard Hughes Corp. and Play Ball Owners Group, including investors Steve Mack, Bart Wear and Chris Kaempfer, with intentions of moving it to a new proposed stadium of $60 million, in Summerlin near the Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino. Summerlin is an affluent neighborhood in the western area of Las Vegas. Possible obstacles are the effects on property values and quality of life, in addition to potential stress on the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area ecology.

Franchise history Edit

Portland Beavers and Spokane Indians Edit

The Las Vegas 51s originally began as the second incarnation of the Portland Beavers baseball club, who reentered the Pacific Coast League after a two-year hiatus. In 1973, the team would move to Spokane, Washington and were renamed the Indians.

Baseball returns to Las Vegas Edit

The franchise would once again move in 1983, becoming the Las Vegas Stars. The Stars became the first professional sports team to play in Las Vegas since the Las Vegas Wranglers baseball club who played from 1947-52 and 1957-58. The Stars inaugural season was quite successful, posting an 83-60 record and winning the first half championship for the Southern Division leading to a playoff berth, eventually losing to the Albuquerque Dukes. The following season, the Stars posted another successful campaign going 71-65 and winning their second division championship (first half), but ultimately lost in the league semifinals to the Hawaii Islanders. After a dismal '85 campaign, the Stars returned to their winning ways posting an 80-62 record and winning the second half of the Southern Division. In the league semifinals, the Stars defeated the Phoenix Firebirds 3 to 2 and went on to win their first PCL Championship, defeating the Vancouver Canadians in five games. The Stars would win their second PCL Championship two years later, once again defeating Vancouver, this time in 4 games.

After winning shares of five division titles and two league championships in their first six years, the Stars would hit a huge skid, only posting a .500 or better record four times and winning shares of only two division championships in the remaining twelve years. The Stars were unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs in both seasons that they qualified.

Intergalactic baseball Edit

In 2001, after 18 years as the San Diego Padres top affiliate, the two teams parted ways. The Stars would soon find a new affiliate with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had just seen their triple-A affiliate, the Albuquere Dukes, move to Portland, Oregon to become the fourth incarnation of the Beavers (eventually agreeing to a Player Development Contract (PDC) with San Diego. As part of the new relationship, the Stars decided to rebrand their entire operation, including renaming the team the Las Vegas 51s as a reference to Area 51, a military base located north-northwest of Las Vegas and believed to house UFOs and other "alien" technology. The team would release logos featuring a grey alien head and introducing a mascot reminiscent of the Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. The whole identity package was blasted as ridiculous by many PCL franchises and many fans, but the team's trademark Dodger blue home cap with grey alien head emblem proved to be a success as it has been one of the highest selling caps in the minor leagues, since 2001.

Although saddled with a new affiliate, a new name, and a new look, the 51s did not improve on the field. The 51s have posted only three winning seasons in the eight years of their existence. There only division title came in 2002 as the team posted the best record in the league at 85-59, but would lose to the eventual PCL champions, the Edmonton Trappers three games to one.

During their eight years together, the Dodgers and the 51s had a very rocky relationship. The Dodgers were not pleased with Cashman Field as it had no weight room, no indoor batting cages, and was decrepit compared to other stadiums in the league. Citing the inadequacies of Cashman Field and lack of planning for a replacement, Los Angeles decided to not renew the PDC with Las Vegas after the 2008 season, instead opting to return to Albuquerque, signing for two years.

Future Edit

Following the Dodgers refusal, the 51s eventually signed a two-year PDC with the Toronto Blue Jays, marking the first time that the 51s had affiliated with an American League club. The affiliation is not expected to extend past 2010, due to the large travel distance between Las Vegas and Toronto, Ontario.

Before the 2008 season, Mandalay Baseball Properties sold the 51s to Stevens Baseball Group. SBG president Derek Stevens stated that he plans to keep the team in the Las Vegas area and was to change the team's name and identity in time for the 2009 season.[7] However, the team decided to postpone the makeover until after the 2009 season, due to the length of time it took to secure a new PDC; leading the team to miss the deadlines set by Minor League Baseball.

Season-by-season recordEdit

Records as of end of the 2008 Pacific Coast League season.

Season W L Win% GB Finish Playoffs
2004 67 76 .469 11.5 3rd, South Did Not Qualify
2005 57 86 .399 22.5 4th, South Did Not Qualify
2006 67 77 .465 24 3rd, South Did Not Qualify
2007 67 77 .465 17 4th, South Did Not Qualify
2008 74 69 .517 8.5 2nd, South Did Not Qualify

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Las Vegas 51s: News: Article
  2. LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: SPORTS: Logan lobbies for new stadium
  3. reviewjournal.com - Sports: Dodgers threaten to quit 51s
  4. Las Vegas 51s: About
  5. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2005/apr/21/518640449.html
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named New_name

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