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Gaming Guru

Laura Carroll

Convention authority votes 10-3 for lease extension at Cashman Field

11 October 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board members, after a long discussion, voted 10-3 on Tuesday to grant a four-year lease extension to the current tenants at Cashman Field, Stars Las Vegas LLC, owners of the Las Vegas 51s.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, along with Paul Chakmak and Steve Ross, cast the dissenting votes.

Goodman, both at a meeting last month and again Tuesday, expressed concern about tying up the 57-acre parcel in downtown Las Vegas where the Triple-A baseball team now plays when the area is in the midst of a revitalization.

However, a majority of board members agreed to extend the lease at Cashman Field from Dec. 31, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2022. If the tenants choose to vacate, they must give the visitors authority, the building's owner, two seasons' notice.

Stars Las Vegas LLC is trying to sell the team to Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, a joint venture between The Howard Hughes Corp. and Steven Mack. However, the new owners want a lease-extension commitment from the convention authority.

Stars Las Vegas needs to sell the team because of its ownership of the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate. The Pacific Coast League doesn't allow team owners to have a stake in gaming.

Goodman also expressed concern about the Cashman Field complex itself, saying it needs to be freshened up and maintained, then asked if Howard Hughes Corp. plans to maintain the building if the sale goes through. Since the authority was directed to construct the Cashman Field complex in 1977, it has maintained the home of the 51s.

Chris Kaempfer, representing Howard Hughes, told the board, "There has not been any discussion about Howard Hughes putting any money into the building itself. ... I don't know why we would want to do something that no other tenant has had to do."

He argued that other team owners - there have been five - haven't faced opposition to 10-year leases or been asked about their plans for the buildings.

Goodman then said the city has been burned before tying up property downtown.

Kaempfer, visibly upset after listening to multiple board members' comments, asked the board, "Am I missing something? You're almost sending the message that 'We're not sure we want you for 10 years.'?"

He then told the board that a short-term lease doesn't make sense from a business standpoint and probably won't fly with Howard Hughes shareholders.

Once other board members spoke and the votes were cast, Goodman made a peace offering of sorts to the building's possible new tenants.

"I would like to say we do welcome you, it is only the issue of redevelopment," Goodman told Howard Hughes Corp. representatives in the audience.