By Syaire Riley
The Albuquerque Isotopes triumphed in their first home game on April 4, a crowd-pleasing start to the season.
The ‘Topes, a Colorado Rockies’ affiliate, started 3–1 in a series of away games that put them in first place in the Pacific Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League.
The first home game of the season is eagerly anticipated.
“Opening Day here in Albuquerque is a big deal,” said play-by-play announcer Josh Suchon. “[The energy] tends to go from the parking lot and into my broadcasts.”
That energy comes from crowds that average 7,500 people per game. And butts in seats translate into revenue for the city.
Before the home opener, Isotopes officials presented the City of Albuquerque with a check for more than $1.5 million in rent and fees from the 2022 season. Since the club’s first season in 2003, the team has paid the city $32 million.
Isotopes Park is on the site of the former Duke’s Stadium, built in 1969. But two decades ago, voters approved a $25 million total overhaul.
One of the many new things fans should expect at the ballpark is an updated food menu, as the Daily Lobo’s Elizabeth Secor reporter. Fans can expect fried pork ends, apple fritter barbecue sandwiches, stir fry noodles and more.
In the field of play, fans will notice an expanded center field. That is due to the recent renovation of the ‘Topes Slope’ which was removed to comply with MLB field regulations.
The Isotopes hosted a six-game homestand in the newly renovated ballpark against the El Paso Chihuahuas before going on the road. They return on April 18 against the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate, the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
On this night, they will honor the late Jackie Robinson, MLB’s first African-American player.
Forest Stulting, the media relations manager for the club, said he understands the significance of the celebration.
“It’s important to continue his legacy and understand his legacy on and off the field,” which “goes across many generations,” Stunting said.
Black Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico President and CEO Karla Causey said remembering the struggle for equality in baseball is important.
“Jackie Robinson represents a man who was willing to take a stand when things were hard,” Causey said. Robinson suffered discrimination, even though he was a star, being forced to eat in the kitchen while the white players ate in the dining room.
Robinson played 10 years with the Dodgers from 1947-1956. Some of his accomplishments include being a six-time all-star, National League MVP, and World Series champion.
The Isotopes are encouraging students K-12 to submit a piece of art or an essay about Jackie Robinson. In return, every student will receive four reserved level tickets, with the deadline being Friday, April 14.
This is the first time students will play a big part in making the night special.
“We are trying to push the younger generation to be involved in baseball,” Causey said. “We want the children to be able to open their eyes and see there’s always more out there for them to reach for.”
The children’s submissions will be shown on video screens before and during the game.
The Isotopes have many promotions set for this year, including 50 cent hotdog night April 19, replica mariachi jerseys May 5 and fireworks on May 20. A Juneteenth celebration is scheduled for June 10.