Published Friday, May 6, 2011 | 11:21 a.m.
Updated Friday, May 6, 2011 | 3:31 p.m.
As the public arena battle has raged between Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, Texas entrepreneur Chris Milam has quietly assembled the building blocks for his own project near the south end of the Strip.
He has signed the minor league baseball 51s to a contract, which would have them move from Cashman Field to a site just west of Interstate 15, opposite Mandalay Bay. The complex would include a ballpark, a stadium and an arena.
The so-called Las Vegas National Sports Center is designed to also house a Major League Soccer franchise and, if the stars align, an NBA team, too.
This may sound like pie in the sky — and anyone who has lived here for a while has heard this before — but Milam seems as determined and deliberative as anyone before him.
Milam announced Friday he has entered into a contract with Stevens Baseball Group LLC to purchase the Las Vegas 51s for an undisclosed price. Subject to league approval, ownership of the franchise is expected to be transferred by the end of July.
Acquiring the franchise, Milam said, is an important step in the creation of the sports center and will “allow for the expansion of professional sports into the Las Vegas market.”
The Legislature is expected to be involved soon, helping Milam pass a measure that would allow him to create a taxing district on the land, which he is negotiating to buy from banks. This could all happen as soon as next week. Considering the project’s proximity to one of its properties, I can’t imagine the MGM folks will be too upset with this one.
Don Logan, longtime general manager of the Las Vegas 51s, said Milam’s proposal “is by far the most innovative and realistic opportunity” to create a new stadium for the team.
An economic impact statement commissioned from economist John Restrepo shows some impressive numbers, including the creation of 2,710 jobs. You can hear lawmakers crowing about that number during a session in which they haven’t had much to crow about.
Could this be one step closer to a pro sports franchise? Let’s hope so.