Las Vegas Aviators whiff on logo, but 1 team says there’s hope

The Las Vegas Aviators logo is on hats for sale within the sales office in Downtown Summerlin and offers info on the team as well. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)The Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin offers various memorabilia items to purchase including mini bats besides info on the team. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)The Las Vegas Aviators logo is on hats for sale within the sales office in Downtown Summerlin and offers info on the team as well. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Las Vegas AviatorsThe Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin offers info on the team and various memorabilia items for purchase. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Baseballs with Aviator‘s logo are for sale at the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Employee Ian Karate with the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin offers info on the team to a customer. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Customers enter the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin which offers info on the team and various memorabilia items to purchase. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Employee Ian Karate talks seat selection with customer David Hon of Henderson at the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Customers talk with staff within the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin which offers info on the team and various memorabilia items to purchase. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Customers consider seat selection via computer within the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin which offers info on the team and various memorabilia items to purchase. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)The Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin offers various memorabilia items to purchase including shirts and hats besides info on the team. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Max Baker, 9, of Salt Lake City, Utah, swings a small baseball bat for sale amongst the other merchandise within the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Brian Baker and son Max, 9, of Salt Lake City, Utah, check out the baseballs for sale amongst the other merchandise within the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Lola Baker, 4, hangs out as her father Brian and brother Max, 9, of Salt Lake City, Utah, check out the baseballs for sale amongst the other merchandise within the Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)The Las Vegas Aviators sales office in Downtown Summerlin offers info on the team and various memorabilia items to purchase. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Anybody with a scintilla of baseball sense knows by now should be thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool at the new Las Vegas Ballpark without a life preserver. Once there is water in the swimming pool, that is.

People said similar things about the 51s’ nickname and logo. “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” they called it. This is what happens when marketing people stay way too long after happy hour.

Las Vegas baseball fans would evolve on the 51s.

Like Bartolo Colon running the bases, it was a slow process. But in 2014, a website called Listosaur ranked the 51s as No. 5 on its list of the 10 most creative minor league baseball team names.

“The alien head with the (baseball) stitches on it, people ended up liking it,” Aviators president Don Logan said.

But you didn’t need to explain the alien head logo with an instructional video or Power Point presentation.

Based on social media vitriol, it seems much more doubtful that local baseball fans will evolve on the Aviators’ logo, which should have been grounded long before takeoff.

With a proper design, the Aviators could be raking in money on team gear hand over fist. Instead, they are letting it slip through their fingers.

Keep it simple

There’s a theory about logos that states the most effective ones usually are also the most simple. Experts talk about the Target bull’s-eye, which a first grader could have designed, that makes the discount store “seem the very essence of affordable, hip practicality.”

The Aviators’ logo, conversely, seems the essence of a bad science fiction movie. There’s nothing hip about it.

Brad Taylor, general manager of the Pacific Coast League team in El Paso, Texas, can relate.

When El Paso built a new downtown ballpark and rescued the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate from dying an obscure death in the Arizona desert, it adopted Chihuahuas as its nickname. The El Paso logo — an angry Chihuahua that at first blush resembles those World’s Ugliest Dog photos one finds on the internet — was blasted across the border to Ciudad Juarez on one hop.

“The first 24 hours a lot of people wanted to run us out of town,” Taylor said.

The blowback was so severe that Taylor thought he might have to sneak out the back door of Rosa’s Cantina, in the manner of the ill-fated cowboy in Marty Robbins’ iconic song about El Paso. But it wasn’t long before the baseball fans down there began to lighten up like the skies over the Sun Bowl.

They began buying everything in sight that had a little angry canine stitched upon it.

Texas turnaround

The Chihuahuas have ranked among the top 25 in minor league merchandise sales in each of their four seasons. (MiLB does not release exact dollar amounts, so it’s impossible to say how high.) In late January, the team unveiled an alternative logo — a howling Chihuahua. On Monday, the fitted Howling Dog cap (price: $34.99) was virtually sold out.

“We’ve sold more merchandise in our first five years of existence than any other minor league team ever,” Taylor said, adding that it may even be a good thing Las Vegas baseball fans detest the Aviators’ logo.

“When I hear these teams say people are up in arms, my first reaction is that’s terrific. That means they’re emotionally invested. Even if they’re against it — they care enough to be on one side or the other. Apathy is death.”

But I believe that if you got Don Logan alone on a dusty diamond, away from the tailored suits and tasseled loafers at Hughes Corporation headquarters, he would probably say he prefers Yankee pinstripes over a baseball cap with a taco on the front, which is what the PCL’s Fresno Grizzlies wear on “Taco Night” at Chukchansi Park.

Usually when a sports team is rebranded, merchandise leaves the shelves in the manner of a Richmond Flying Squirrel. But a check of the Aviators’ online store revealed the fitted home caps — the ones featuring the abstract pilot head — were plentifully available in all sizes.

The road cap, the one with the simple LV logo on front, was sold out.

Ron Kantowski at or. Follow on Twitter.

Major sellers in minors

Since Minor League Baseball began tracking merchandise sales in 1993, only six teams have made the top 25 list in every year of their existence:

Durham Bulls (25 years)

Trenton Thunder (24 years)

Sacramento River Cats (18 years)

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (11 years)

El Paso Chihuahuas (four years)

Columbia Fireflies (two years)

Source: Minor League Baseball