Looks like the Bay Area has a special place in its heart for Sin City. This time, the Oakland A’s have signed a two-year Player Development Contract to take over the Las Vegas triple-A franchise, formerly named the Las Vegas 51s.
The agreement, set to extend through the 2020 season, gives Oakland a regional developmental team. It also coincides with the Las Vegas Raiders moving to Sin City in 2020 as well. The team will open the new Las Vegas Ballpark out in Summerlin. The new team name, though reportedly to be the Las Vegas Aviator, has not been confirmed by team officials.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with Don Logan and his staff as we both work towards putting a championship team on the field,” Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane said in a statement.
Team officials here in Vegas are excited about the new partnership.
“We are excited to have the Oakland A’s as our new Major League affiliate,” 51s President/COO Don Logan said. “I have known Billy (Beane) for a long time and consider him a friend. The relationship with the A’s goes back to the 1990’s when they played regular season games in Las Vegas (1996).
“The A’s have enjoyed great success at the Triple-A level with their minor league system which has been second to none. The new PDC will provide a tremendous environment for the players with the state-of-the-art amenities that will enhance player development with the indoor hitting cages, mounds and workout areas in the Las Vegas Ballpark.”
The move is one major offseason hurdle as construction on the new stadium is underway. Fans already said goodbye to Cashman Field earlier this month. The Mets decided to not renew their agreement heading into the season. Oakland, along with the Milwaukee Brewers, were the most likely options as more than a few minor league teams shuffled around after the Colorado Springs Sky Sox announced their move to Texas this past offseason.
It is also a logistical move for the A’s, who can fly in players easier with the geographic proximity between Las Vegas and Oakland.
“The proximity with the Bay Area to Las Vegas will also provide the opportunity to move players much easier regarding the roster transactions from the Triple-A to the Major League level,” Logan said. “McCarran International Airport has non-stop flights to the numerous PCL markets, as well as the big cities, that enables our team to have the best travel in the 16-team league.
“This will be a great situation for our fans to watch top prospects in the A’s system as well as players on Major League rehabilitation assignments showcase their talents in the Las Vegas Ballpark.”
With the Raiders already on the docket for Vegas in 2020, this announcement adds another layer to the already dynamic relationship between the Bay Area and Sin City. While Oakland fans may look at Vegas with disdain, this may help heal some of the wounds Bay Area fans feel after losing the Raiders to Vegas.
The team itself has yet to decide on a name for the franchise, although most outlets have reported it is “highly likely” the new team name will be the Las Vegas Aviators. The name is understandable, considering it is owned by Howard Hughes Corp., whose namesake is that of a famous American aviator and investor.
First reported by detroithockey.net along with sportslogos.net, a lawyer with the Howard Hughes Corp. — which owns the 51s franchise as well as the new ballpark — has filed for 16 domains related to the Aviators name as well as the Twitter handle, @LVAviators. The team could not confirm a decision on the name, only going on record that it is a “contender.”
“Aviators is among the names with the most submissions and we think its a contender,” Las Vegas 51s Media Relations Director Jim Gemma told Sin City Sports Mockery. “We moved to protect it in order to make sure it remained an option rather than fall prey to cyber-squatters.”
This will be the fifth organizational change for the triple-A franchise. it was the affiliate for the San Diego Padres for 18 seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers for eight, the Toronto Blue Jays for four and the Mets the last six seasons.