Located in the “City of Little Lights” – Albuquerque, Isotopes Park is a minor league baseball stadium in New Mexico. Affectionately called “The Lab” by fans, it is home to the Albuquerque Isotopes, which plays in the Triple-A West and is affiliated to the Colorado Rookies. With its modern majestic buildings and best-in-class conveniences, the AAA baseball stadium attracts ardent baseball lovers. It became Rio Grande Credit Union Field in 2020 after mortgage firm Rio Grande Credit Union bought the naming rights.
Isotopes Park was originally known as Albuquerque Sports Stadium. The Albuquerque Dukes, the Triple-A associates of the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing there. In 2000, after a 40-year stint in Albuquerque, the Dukes’ owner Bob Lozinak sold the franchise to a group in Portland, Oregon. The Dukes became the Portland Beavers. The franchise again moved to Texas in 2014. It is now the El Paso Chihuahuas and plays at Southwest University Park.
Meanwhile, the departure of Dukes from Albuquerque led to efforts to have another Triple-A franchise. In 2001, a gathering headed by Tampa finance manager Ken Young purchased the Calgary Cannons with the aim of moving it to Albuquerque, dependent upon building a park. Since Albuquerque Sports Stadium was old and in dilapidated condition, the franchise owners pressed for a new ballpark. There was a debate whether to remodel the old stadium or build a new one. The city administration put the issue to a vote and the citizens approve $25 million in funding to renovate the existing facility.
The work on Isotopes Park began on October 25, 2001, and it opened on April 11, 2003.
Design and Features
Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park has 11,124 seats. The main entrance is at a four-level structure. The first level has the Hall of Fame at the McKernan Hall while club seats dominate the second level. There is a berm across the field fence and it is the place for families to loosen up on a cover while watching games at the ballpark. It also boasts a kids’ play area. There is the Picnic Pavilion on the left backside of the warm-up area. It has a place for up to 500 individuals in four layers.
Isotopes Park also has 661 club seats and 30 suites. The field has an elevated centerfield imitating a similar feature at the major league stadium Minute Maid Park. The baseball stadium has an enormous open enclosed patio over the main stand. Seats here offer a thrilling view of the action on the field as well as convenient access to the majority of eateries, activity areas, and the ballpark store.
The upper seating deck at Isotopes Park expands to connect with the main structure. This leads to the creation of a patio that overhangs the open breezeway. Rio Grande Credit Union Field is located 5,100 feet above sea level and this makes it batter friendly.
Isotopes Park’s concourse has statues of various characters from the animated satire The Simpsons. All statues are built in fiberglass. The comedy had a 2001 episode named “Hungry, Hungry Homer,” which depicted Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart from the sitcom as planning a visit to Albuquerque.
Kids accompanying their parents to Isotopes Park can enjoy various activities at the Fun Zone next to the berm. It has a small playground with facilities for basketball and baseball cage. The zone too has a carnival-style ride and other activity areas.
Eateries at Isotopes Park serve the best of the New Mexico cuisine. Green Chile Cheeseburgers are a symbol of support among fans of the Albuquerque Isotopes. The recent years have witnessed more addition of creative cuisine to the menu at the ballpark. Fans have the option to have a ride on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway that traverses through the Sandia Mountains.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park hosted the 2007 Triple-A All-Star Game.
- The 2007 Home Run Derby winner was Rob Stratton, who was part of the Isotopes’ inaugural season at the ballpark in 2003.
- Manny Ramirez played his first game following a 50-game suspension due to doping issues at the baseball stadium on June 23, 2009, before a 13,000-strong crowd.
- It was the venue for the 2011 Triple-A National Championship.
- The “Copa de la Diversión” game between the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Mariachis de Nuevo México drew 16,975 fans on May 6, 2018.
- The Isotopes were associated with the Miami Marlins until 2008 but moved to become an affiliate of the Dodgers until 2014 and then to the Colorado Rockies in 2015.
- Isotopes Park favors batters due to its elevated location at 5,100 feet above sea level.
- In 2017, 2006 MLB MVP and three-time All-Star Ryan Howard joined the Albuquerque Isotopes.
- It is the biggest baseball stadium in the minor league built after 2000.
- The centerfield has a 127-feet long and 4-feet high grass-covered incline to increase the aesthetics of the ballpark. This is a nightmare for outfielders.
- The concrete baseball outside dates back to 1937. Originally it was in Tingley Field.
- Albuquerque Baseball Trivia is a series of panels on the concourse walls displaying information about the Albuquerque Isotopes.
- All Level-2 suites are sold out until 2023.