The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Minor League Baseball team of the Triple-A West and the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. This stellar team plays their home games at Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The team name was inspired by an episode of The Simpsons and has become one of the biggest Minor League Baseball teams in its region. The Isotopes have a strong division record with big wins in 2003, 2009, and 2012 and fans are eagerly waiting for their premier league championship season.
When you come out to Isotopes Park, you can expect excellent baseball action and a load of park features that everyone will love.
About Isotopes Park
Isotopes Park, now also known as Rio Grande Credit Union Field, is a baseball stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The stadium is the home field for the Albuquerque Isotopes, a minor league baseball team that is affiliated with the Colorado Rockies.
The Park got its start in 2000 when Bob Lozinak, the then-owner of the Albquerque Dukes, sold the team to a Portland, Oregon-based group. The team then moved to Portland as The Beavers, the first move for the team after 40 years in the old Albuquerque Sports Stadium.
The city found a new team and voted to renovate the old stadium. But the renovation turned into a construction of a whole new facility as only the original field was maintained.
The new park kept most of the original structure and dimensions as well as the system connecting the dugout to the clubhouse. While the intent was to keep the original facility’s ‘drive-in’ terrace where fans could sit in their cars and watch for free. But Isotopes management scrapped the plans due to security concerns. So the terrace was then converted into a play area for children. The stadium is known as a hitters park, because the high altitude and dry air, as well as changes in the field, made it easier to hit homers.
The stadium made its first single-game attendance record on June 23, 2009 when fans came out to see Manny Ramirez start after serving a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. During that game, the Isotopes defeated the Nashville Sounds 1-0. Spectators that came out to the park on September 20, 2011 also got to see the 2011 Triple-A National Championship Game, where the Columbus Clippers defeated the Omaha Storm Chasers 8-3 in front of over 9,500 fans.
But there hasn’t been a bigger turn out to the stadium since 2018, when 16,975 fans attended a game on Cinco de Mayo, where the Isotopes played as the Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico.
The stadium today features a large open breezeway above the primary seating area that has a gorgeous view of the field as well as most of the park’s services including restrooms, most of the food concessions, and a souvenir store behind home plate. But the most famous attraction to the park is, without a doubt, the statues of Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart Simpson in honor of the episode “Hungry, Hungry Homer” that inspired the team’s name.
Baseball Team Summary
After Albuquerque lost the Dukes, the city went to work searching for a replacement. They found it in January 2001 when a group of businessmen led by Ken Young and Mike Koldyke bought the Calgary Cannons with the intention of bringing them to Albuquerque for the 2003 season. But the group told the city that they would only complete the purchase if the city would fund a new stadium or renovate Albuquerque Sports Stadium, since it was old and in need of renovations.
The city put the matter to a vote in May 2001 and ultimately chose to spend $25 million on renovations. The business group kept their word and purchased the Cannons and moved the team to Albuquerque, renaming it the Isotopes.
The original plans to renovate eventually became whole new construction, as the only part of the original stadium that remained was the old playing field. The new facility kept most of the same arrangements, but changed the drive-in terrace into a play area for children due to security concerns.
The Isotopes played their first official game on April 11, 2003, three years after the Dukes left the city. The team was greeted by over 12,000 fans on opening day and the team would go on to see over 575,000 spectators visiting the stadium to watch them play their home games. The team would reach a franchise attendance record in 2008 with over 590,000 attending fans.
The team found fast success, as the team won 2003’s Central Division Title and entered the 2003 Pacific Coast League Playoffs. This, along with the arrival of Manny Ramirez in July 2009, led to the team finding nationwide attention. Ramirez was under close scrutiny, since he was just returning after a long suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. But the team played on, even with the criticism they faced by ESPN and professional commentators.
Today, the team has been organized into the ten-team Triple-A West after Major League Baseball restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021.
Baseball Achievements & Impact
The Isotopes have only been around since 2003, but their skill on the field and cultural impact has earned them a cult following. And their talented players have also won the team several awards including the following:
In September 2009, Mitch Jones was honored as the winner of the Joe BAuman Home Run Award, for the most home runs (35), in minor league baseball. Then later, in 2014, Joc Pederson was named the PCL Rookie of the Year, after leading the league in OBP runs, home runs, walks, and OPS and setting single-season records for walks and runs scored. This award only comes to players in their first year at the Triple-A level. Pederson was also selected to 2014’s Minor League All-Star Team.
But everyone knows that broadcasters can be just as important as the players on the field. And the Isotopes have had some terrific broadcasters.
For example, Mike Roberts, a longtime broadcaster (1966-2013) is a known figure on TV and radio and has done work with Albuquerque news, professional baseball, college football, and high school sports.
With all this fame, it’s not surprising that the Isotopes have even made their way into entertainment television. Including mentions in USA’s “In Plain Sight”, AMC’s “Breaking Bad”, NBC’s “The Voice”, and AMC’s “Better Call Saul”.
Isotopes fans certainly have a lot to look forward to with this impactful team.