Tuesday, March 15, 2011
My wife and I decided to finally take a trip to Vegas and I cleverly found a way to mix baseball into the trip. Every year the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authoirty host the Big League Weekend that consists of two spring training split squad games at Cashman Field. This year the participating teams were the Reds, Dodgers, and Cubs. Cashman Field was built on land donated by James "Big Jim" Cashman, a Las Vegas community leader and "Southern Nevada Pioneer." The 9,500 seat stadium was completed in 1983 and is currently the AAA home of the Las Vegas 51's which are affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Stadium Rating: C
For the most part, the tan and red Cashman Field is an oddity by being attached to a convention center on one side of the stadium along with a theatre. You will find it tucked far away from the Strip and I didn't see any accommodations around it that looked interesting to me worth exploring on foot. It features tons of parking with the majority of it being elevated about 100 feet below ground level, so prepare for some walking to your seat after you have parked. Upon entering the stadium, you will walk up an elevated two story concourse that features baseball murals along its sides of past Las Vegas minor league players.
The stadium seats are angled perfectly for baseball but the bleacher seats looked like they were uncomfortable. My wife and I got seats under the overhang in the Plaza section and we were protected from the sun. I imagine the dugout seats behind home plate would be the next best place to watch a game because they are practically on the field. The open concourse makes it possible to walk around the entire stadium and watch the game from multiple angles. You can see some mountain ranges outside of the stadium but nothing remotely close like you experience with the Utah stadiums.
The small concession kiosk's could be spread out better because while I was waiting in line for some Monster Nachos for a good thirty minutes, several others thought they were waiting in line for something else. The grass seating is somewhat small and I had to asked an usher for permission to take some pictures from the berm. Cashman Field features zero sky boxes with the Club Restaurant taking their spot.
Beyond the left field wall is the Bud Light Party Deck, that I found while exploring the stadium. It featured a full service bar and some padded seats that offered some great seats to watch a game. The picnic area is not opened to every one due to it being part of the Bank of America Patio area. The stadium bathrooms were clean along with the stadium which is always important to me. Cashman Field doesn't feel anything like a Minor League Stadium and if you didn't follow baseball, you wouldn't have any clue Las Vegas has a Minor League team..
Baseball Atmosphere: B
Considering Cashman Field was filled with Cubs fans the the day I visited, the baseball atmosphere was very entertaining and the in- between baseball promotions for the most part promoted the spirit of the game. I would really like to see how this plays out in the middle of the summer with the heat and the Cubs not in town. If any B level celebrities were in the stadium, we didn't see them and I didn't see any baseball mascots which is odd.
Upon ordering tickets, my wife almost canceled the baseball part of our Las Vegas trip and the 51's really didn't help me any with arguing her point of view. The tickets were more than our hotel stay. Its absurd for tickets for any Spring Training SS game to cost over $30.00. Yes, its Vegas and the Cubs, but it did turn into your regular AAA game by the 7th inning. Due to the pricing, we could only attend one game. The only thing that saved this rating from being lower is the free parking, free program, and that the $7.50 Monster Nachos were worth every penny.
Cashman Field is a goldmine for graphs inside and outside the stadium. Inside the stadium, you basically graph on top of the dugouts. While at first this may seem difficult, the players for the most part have to make eye contact with you while exiting the dugout and entering the dugout depending on what area of the dugout you are standing on. Small kids will have hard time handing their items to players due to the railing paralleling the dugout. You have great access to the visiting teams bullpen by access of the Bank of America Patio area on the 3rd base side. You don't have access to this area during the game but you do 15 minutes up until game time to graph. People that were seated in the dugout seats were graphing thru the netting behind homeplate and along the left side dugout on the 3rd baseside which is field level for the players taking batting practice. Several coaches and players signed thru the netting. For graphing teams leaving and arriving, Cashman Field features a parking lot that services both teams with no gates or security. The only thing that works against you is that the parking lot is large and players have multiple ways of entering the stadium. For example, players can enter the stadium the same way you would like the majority of the Reds roster did, or at the locker room located in the middle of the parking lot and finally by using the entrance closer to the batting cages like Blake Dewitt used. Taxi's and shuttle buses don't really have an exact drop off place and both teams will use the same three entrances. I didn't get everyone I asked for an autograph, but Cashman Field's layout played no part of it.
Overall, my wife and I enjoyed our visit to Cashman Field. Upon leaving the stadium, I overheard a popular Cubs TV channel employee saying that Cashman Field is a great place to watch a game but an eyesore to film. I don't necessarily agree with that statement completely. Its not the best stadium I have visited but its not all that bad if you are truly interested in enjoying a baseball game in the middle of the desert. I couldn't really get a lot of photos due to how crowded the stadium was and limited access within the stadium so a return visit is already being planned.