SBJ/April 14 - 20, 2003/Special Report

Isotopes Park

Isotopes Park has a four-foot berm in center field that players must negotiate.

Fans at the new minor league ballpark in Albuquerque, N.M., no longer have to miss any of the action to buy a hot dog or some peanuts.

Renovated and newly named Isotopes Park, home of the Class AAA Albuquerque Isotopes, features a 360-degree concourse where fans can find all their concessions and keep their eyes on the ball. Before the park's $25 million facelift, fans had to exit the grandstand to purchase snacks.

Other new amenities at the ballpark include an additional 5,214 fixed seats and 30 skyboxes. The ballpark also features a terraced area beyond the left-field wall with 60 picnic tables.

A design wrinkle on the field includes a four-foot grass berm in the outfield modeled after the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park.

The renovation did, however, eliminate a feature from the former ballpark site that made possible a unique experience: drive-in games. Fans previously were able to park their cars on a hill above the right-field wall of what was known as Albuquerque Sports Stadium and enjoy the game from there.

Security concerns following Sept. 11 eliminated the drive-in area from plans for the renovation, but there have been ongoing discussions of developing the area into a children's playground, which would be easier to secure.

Each of the ballpark's suites has 18 seats, and each suite is being sold for $28,500 a year. About half of the ballpark's 661 available club seats had been sold as of late last month.

Albuquerque was without a Class AAA team for the past two seasons after serving as home to the Albuquerque Dukes, the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate, from 1972 to 2000. The Isotopes, a Florida Marlins affiliate, will wear the same red and yellow colors worn by the Dukes.

Click here for a list of Isotopes Park subcontractors.

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