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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

RGCU Field at Isotopes Park – Albuquerque Isotopes


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

RGCU Field at Isotopes Park 1601 Avenida Cesar Chavez SE Albuquerque, NM 87106


Year Opened: 2003 Capacity: 13,279

 

Duke City Baseball

Disclaimer: This is NOT a review of the Springfield Isotopes at Duff Stadium. For that, check this link.

Albuquerque, NM (nicknamed the Duke City) has a long history of baseball, beginning as far back as 1880, with teams playing in various B, C, and D leagues until the mid-1950s.  Most teams were known as ‘The Dukes. In 1964, the Los Angeles Dodgers purchased the existing team and moved them from the aging Tingley Field to the Albuquerque Sports Stadium.  The team remained the Dodgers affiliate until the end of the 2000 season.

In May 2001, city voters approved a $25 million renovation of the existing stadium.  Construction crews razed and completely rebuilt Albuquerque Sports Stadium on the same site.  Business individuals purchased the floundering Calgary Cannons and moved that team to Albuquerque for the 2003 season as the Albuquerque Isotopes (affiliates of the Miami Marlins).  The owners named the new venue Isotopes Park. 


The Isotopes again became affiliates of the Dodgers from 2009 – 2014.  In 2015, the team became the AAA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies when that team moved from Colorado Springs, CO. They are a member of the Pacific Coast League (PCL).


Isotopes Park, officially known as Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park (RGCU Field), is nicknamed ‘The Lab,’ as an isotope is a science-related term.  It is a top-notch stadium to watch minor league baseball.


Food & Beverage 4

The ballpark offers a decent variety of food.  Permanent concession stands and carts line the inner concourse.  Fans can carry one sealed bottle of water into the stadium.

Permanent concession stands are:

  • Batter Up! (burgers, chicken baskets, fries, nachos, flatbread, etc.)

  • Pecos River Café (a variety of hot dog choices, Frito pie, etc.)

  • Dions Pizza (pizza, salad, and more)

  • Sante Fe Trail (green and red chile offerings, Hawaiian turkey leg, elotes, etc.)

  • The Sweet Spot (ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, etc.)

  • Black Angus – Perico’s (New Mexican fare) 


All kinds of kiosks line the concourse offering Dippin’ Dots, pickles, snow cones, green chili and Philly, Bananas Foster, wild game sausages, noodles, beer, mixed drinks, and vodka lemonade. 


Most stands offer domestic beers and Pepsi brand sodas (beer $13.50 - $14.25, soda $6.50).  Craft Corner is a beer garden near the right field foul pole that sells several local New Mexico brews on tap.


The concourse provides some drink rails to pause and watch the game.  The stadium could use a few more of them for those who like to wander.


Atmosphere 4

The Isotopes organization does most things extremely well, starting with their friendly, helpful staff, the gorgeous mountain view beyond right field, and the superb public address announcer. 

Green fold-down seats run from foul pole to foul pole, with berm seating in right field and a picnic pavilion in left field.  The seats in the high rows behind home and third base get the shade first for day games.  The first base side seating does not get any shade and is in the sun for the entirety of day games.


The Isotope dugout is on the third base side.  Nets run all the way down to just before the foul poles and are relatively easy to see through.  The only place to watch the game net-free is the berm in right field or the group picnic pavilion above the bullpens in left field. 


The team installed a new scoreboard in late 2022, which measures nearly 35 feet high by 110 feet wide and features a 15HD pixel layout.  It’s one of the largest in the Pacific Coast League.  It portrays a wide variety of statistics:  the lineup for the team at bat, player at bat and photo, player season stats and previous innings results, pitcher information, time, temperature, and plenty of advertisements.  Sadly, I didn’t notice any closed captioning, which the previous scoreboard offered.


For the 2024 season, the team purchased two new LED auxiliary scoreboards which are situated along the Club level façade on both the first and third base sides of the ballpark.  TV monitors, just inside the first and third base entrances, list the starting lineups.


The announcer’s voice is clear and loud, and it is especially helpful that music is not played over her calls.  The team game day operation does a really nice job with that.  More team organizations should take notice of how the Isotopes do it here. 


The batter’s eye is unusual – a cluster of live pine trees - rather than the traditional green wall.  Prior to the 2023 season, the organization had to remove the iconic center field ‘hill.’  The Isotopes did this at the request of Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies.


Isotopes Park with Hill, Without Hill, Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


The one thing that could improve the atmosphere is reducing the annoying noise snippets or songs between each and every single pitch when the Isotopes are at bat.  It’s not loud, but it’s certainly irritating.  It is more of a pleasure watching the visiting team bat because that doesn’t happen. 


Neighborhood 4

The ballpark sits adjacent to Central New Mexico College and the University of New Mexico (UNM) and across the street from The Pit and other UNM Lobo sports venues.   It is a mile from the Nob Hill neighborhood, a vibrant area full of brewpubs, eateries, taquerias, pizzerias, local boutiques, and small art galleries.  Sounds from music bars fill the late-night air in this neighborhood. 

For breakfast, try Frontier.  A hidden gem for Korean food is Soo Bak Seoul Bowl.  For authentic, tasty New Mexico flare, visit Cocina Azul – even the rice and beans are yummy.  Unbeknownst to the rest of the country, Albuquerque is a hopping local brewery town.   Recommended breweries close to Isotopes Park (though not necessarily within walking distance) are 377 Brewing, Gravity Bound Brewing, and Marble Brewery.  But there are plenty more to visit.


Things to see and do while in Albuquerque include Sandia Peak Tramway, Old Town Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument, ABQ Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and, of course, a ride in a hot air balloon.


For places to stay when in town, plenty of hotels are available at the intersection of Gibson Blvd and Yale Blvd (about a mile from the park), ranging from La Quinta to Marriott brands to Holiday Inns, many with shuttles to and from the airport. 


During baseball season, other sports in the area include New Mexico United (USL-C), and NM Lobos baseball and softball.


Fans 3

Fans continue to come out in droves to visit Isotopes Park, especially on promotion days.  The Mariachis de Nuevo México promotion days get near-sellout crowds.  In 2023, the cumulative attendance total of 521,521 was the fifth most in all minor league baseball. 

Because of the history with the Dodgers, attend when the team plays the OKC Dodgers, and you’ll see many Dodger fans in attendance.  


Fans enjoy the game and the festivities at the ballpark.


Access 4

Approaching and traversing Isotopes Park is relatively easy.  It is just a block off I-25 with plenty of nearby parking ($7) across the intersection.  Visitors or residents of Albuquerque may find it just as easy to get to via side streets versus getting on the interstate.

Bus Route 16 drops fans off at the ballpark.  An Amtrak Station is about 2 miles from Isotopes Park.  The closest airport is the Albuquerque Sunport Airport, about a 5-minute drive to the ballpark.

 

The gates open an hour before the first pitch.   Three entrances are available, with the one behind home used only for those with club or VIP tickets.   Fans are required to use clear plastic bags, no backpacks.  The concourse gets quite crowded behind home plate but opens up nicely down the lines.  Patrons can walk the entire concourse circumference.   Fans must cross a small bridge to complete the circle (fans afraid of heights and such things may find this difficult).


Re-entry is not permitted.


Local law officials do a fantastic job moving cars out of the parking lots after the game. 


All restrooms have baby changing tables.  The stadium has family restrooms on the first base and third base concourse and the Club level.


Return on Investment 5

Ticket prices vary: Club level $28 - $33, Box level $18 - $23, Reserved level $16 - $21, Berm $10 - $13 (sold on game day only).  Save $4 and purchase tickets in advance.  Kids (ages 2 to 12), seniors (65+), and military get $2 off.  Add an additional $5 for Cinco de Mayo game day tickets. 

These prices are lower than some AAA teams and higher than others.   Buying tickets in advance and attending on weekdays will get you lower prices. 


Concession prices are about average as well.  And, if attending on a promotion day, fans may leave with a little goodie or see fireworks or mariachi. 


It’s a fun time here.   Attending a game is a great sports entertainment investment.


Extras 4

Some other items are worth noting.  A Hall of Fame is inside the entry to the Club level.  It displays plaques and trophies of notable Albuquerque sports individuals.  Unfortunately, it is only available for those with Club level tickets.

The remarkable Sandia Mountain view is one your eyes will be drawn to throughout the game. 


The history of the team’s name is unique.   It comes from the TV series The Simpsons in which Homer Simpson attempts to foil the fictional “Springfield Isotopes” baseball team’s plan to move to Albuquerque.  The concourse at Isotopes Park features four of The Simpson’s characters to tie in the theme.




The Isotopes installed a new LED lighting system for the 2024 season.  The lights strobe white and red after an Isotopes player hits a home run.   It’s pretty cool.  New murals have been painted along the concourse wall and include several references to Albuquerque and New Mexico. 



Final Thoughts

Isotopes Park is an amazing venue to take in a ballgame. The view is spectacular, the prices are reasonable, and the entertainment is enjoyable.  It’s close to the airport, so if in the Southwest, make a special trip to Isotopes Park. 

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