Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park

From BR Bullpen

Isotopes Park.jpg
  • Name: Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park
  • GPS-able Address: 1601 Avenida Cesar Chavez Southeast, Albuquerque, NM 87106
  • Ballpark Owner: City of Albuquerque
  • Architects: HOK Sport (now Populous)
  • Groundbreaking: 10/25/2001
  • Minor League Baseball Teams: Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) 2003-present
  • Class/League History: AAA/Pacific Coast League 2022-present; AAA/Triple-A West 2021; AAA/Pacific Coast League 2003-2020
  • First Professional Baseball Game: 4/11/2003; stadium debut of Class AAA Isotopes
  • Others Playing or Operating Here: Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame; New Mexico United (soccer)
  • Previous Ballpark Names: Isotopes Park 2003-2019
  • LF: 340 CF: 400 RF: 340
  • Seats: 11,124
  • Stated Capacity: 13,500
  • House Baseball/Softball Record Attendance (as currently configured): 16,975, 5/5/2018

Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, NM, is the home of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Colorado Rockies' Triple-A Pacific Coast League farm team. It was also slated to be the Rockies' 2020 Coronavirus pandemic alternate training site until New Mexico imposed a 14-day quarantine, making it impractical for this purpose.

Albuquerque Sports Stadium was built on the same site in 1969.[1] As its condition deteriorated in the 1990s, Albuquerque Dukes ownership sold out to Oregon buyers who moved the team to Portland after the 2000 season.

The city immediately began scrambling to regain the game, with factions lining up for a new downtown stadium or renovating the existing one near the University of New Mexico campus. What to do eventually went to local voters, who chose renovation over replacement.

This sequence of events led to some disagreement over whether "The Lab" is a new ballpark or an extensive renovation of Albuquerque Sports Stadium. As of October 30, 2022, the Isotopes' website says the ballpark "opened in 2003" and that it "stands in the exact same spot as where historic Albuquerque Sports Stadium stood."[2] However, the collegiate New Mexico Lobos - who also played in The Lab until 2013 - referred to it at their website as a "renovated" version of their shared playpen.

The mayor who got the deal done, Jim Baca, spoke to this question in 2013: "Let's make one thing clear; that wasn't a renovation ... All they left from the old stadium was a 10-foot slab of concrete. It's silly to call it a renovation. It's a brand-new stadium." The quote appeared in the Albuquerque Journal's 10th-anniversary series examining the fall and rise of Albuquerque baseball:[3][4][5]

The Lab lies on the southern edge of the UNM campus - with the school controlling all of the parking around the ballpark.

Designed by renowned baseball architect HOK Sport (now Populous), Isotopes Park closed the deal to bring the Calgary Cannons of the PCL to town. It hosted the 2007 Triple-A All-Star Game and, early in the 2022 campaign, the 10 millionth fan at a 'Topes game.

After the 2022 season, an iconic feature became another casualty of MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization. The 'Topes and their park were never in danger as 43 teams fell out of affiliated baseball, but MLB and the Rockies did ask them to take down "Isotopes Hill" - a literal hill at the back of center field that was reminiscent of similar outfield slopes in Cincinnati's Crosley Field and Nashville's Sulphur Dell.

However, the reorganization greatly expanded existing standards for stadiums hosting affiliated teams. The 'Topes say they have already accomplished much of what's required, and the city is working on funding the rest by asking the state for $2 million and its own voters for another $1.5 million in bonds.

Albuquerque's longtime-parent Los Angeles Dodgers switched farm clubs partly because the city's altitude makes the stadium such a hitters' park - which is of course Rockies-perfect.

RGCU signed a 10-year field-naming deal in February 2020, resulting in its unwieldy official name.

Current ballparks in the Pacific Coast League
East Division West Division
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark | Constellation Field | Dell Diamond | Isotopes Park | Southwest University Park Cheney Stadium | Greater Nevada Field | Las Vegas Ballpark | Smith's Ballpark | Sutter Health Park