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Tips to ensure your Aviators game day experience is stellar

Updated May 16, 2021 - 6:29 pm

The bats are cracking, balls flying and fans cheering again at the Las Vegas Ballpark after a quiet 606 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ballpark, which had 47 sellouts in its first season, has recently been limited to 50 percent capacity during Las Vegas Aviators games. But during last week’s homestand against the Sacramento River Cats, it seemed very much like baseball as usual, with the stands fuller than at times at the old Cashman Field. If you haven’t been among the 650,000 through the gates since opening day, here’s a primer for the game day experience before the next homestand starts Thursday.

Getting there and parking

The ballpark is at 1650 S. Pavilion Center Drive, adjacent to Downtown Summerlin, and can be reached via the 215 Beltway to Charleston Boulevard or Sahara Avenue. Turn south or north onto Town Center Drive and then head west. Parking is free, plentiful, reasonably well lighted and an easy walk to the ballpark, but you’re on your own to a certain extent.

There are no signs pointing in or out and no markings in the lots, which can make things confusing. So look for landmarks — “across from the center-field box office, three rows from the double row of palms.” There were an awful lot of people searching for their vehicles after the game.

COVID and you

Federal and local COVID-19 recommendations have changed recently, and the Aviators, who won’t be back in the ballpark until Thursday, have not announced whether their policies will change as well. But as of last week: Each person had to take a three-question health screening before entering, face coverings were required and sanitizers dotted the concourse. And fans couldn’t expect to high-five their favorite players, who couldn’t have contact with fans. But the concourse, stands and other areas were reassuringly clean.

Getting in

Plan to get there early — maybe 30 minutes before the umpire yells “play ball.” You’ll need to submit to a bag check and be scanned by a metal detector. At 6:57 p.m. crowds still milled around the entrances, and first pitch flew with the punctuality of a German train — right at 7:05. You don’t want to be the dad with the little boys who, walking in from the concourse at 7:15, wailed, “It’s already started?”

Seats

They’re extremely comfortable, with vented-mesh seats and backs. Some fans have complained that the seats make them itch, and the team says it’s trying to resolve the problem. Pro tip: In the meantime, consider wearing long pants.

Food and drink

Choices have been reduced somewhat in this slowed-down period; for example, the guest-chef series launched in the first season won’t return until next year. There were lots of choices, though. Capriotti’s was serving Bobbies and cheesesteaks on the concourse, and Border Grill’s BBQ Mexicana had the likes of burnt-ends burritos and smoked tofu bowls near the outfield pool.

In terms of traditional stadium food, choices included a hot dog, $6; burger, $12; large draft, $12; Wine on the Fly, $14; Frosé, $14; bottle of water, $4; soft drink, $5; Dole Whip, $7; and bag of peanuts, $5.

Merch

Fans could get Aviators-branded hats, shorts, towels, slides, pennants, banners, face masks, baseballs, stuffed mascots, mini-bats and more. A Hawaiian shirt was $89.99, and jersey-ish shirts for adults and kids $79.99.

Restrooms

Gender equity in restrooms — or what the more precious among us call “potty parity” — has been an issue at public venues, but the Las Vegas Ballpark seems to treat both sides fairly. A women’s room on the first-base side of the concourse had 30 stalls, while the corresponding men’s room had seven stalls and nine urinals; there also was a family restroom. There are five sets of restrooms in all.

Having fun

Minor league baseball teams know they’re in the minor leagues, so there’s always a lot more going on than what’s on the field. Early in Monday night’s game, the Aviator mascot, sleek and space-agey, walked through a section of stands to fist-bump two young guys. Later his comedic counterpart, Spruce, crept behind a row of seats, tweaking pony tails from behind, before eventually posing with a silver-haired birthday girl.

And there’s plenty of entertainment between innings and during other breaks, including a dice-tossing game, a Foosball challenge and the Dizzy Bat Race, where the participants place their foreheads on bats and spin around a few times before racing across the field, which can get pretty chaotic.

“Generally the adults, they like to drink a little bit,” on-field emcee Andy Martello said.

Normally, Martello said, the games also feature Finn the Bat Dog, a black Labrador retriever who snags bats tossed by players and returns them to the dugout. But he’s been sidelined by COVID restrictions that preclude him (and his trainer) from being on the field. It’ll be worth watching for him next year.

“He has more Instagram hits and followers than all of us combined,” Martello said.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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