Albuquerque Isotopes furlough employees because of pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the minor league season looking all but dead because of the pandemic, the Isotopes are cutting costs by furloughing workers indefinitely. General Manager John Traub said a “significant number” of people would be furloughed although he would not specify how many. The Isotopes’ website shows a staff of about 30 workers.

Traub said, in late April or early May, the Isotopes notified workers that they would be guaranteed employment through the end of June. This week, they got confirmation that they will not be getting paid as of July 1.

“It’s the most emotional, disappointing, and heart-wrenching thing we’ve ever had to deal with,” Traub said.

Traub stressed that furloughs mean it is temporary and the organization intends to bring the employees back when they know what will happen with their next season. The loss of a season could also hurt the city. Typically, Isotopes President Ken Young presents the city with a rent check every April.

“The city has constantly put money into the stadium, as has the team,” Young said during the ceremony in 2018. The check presentation never happened this year. That rent check usually tops a million dollars, as the city gets a cut of ticket sales, concessions and merchandise sales from the previous season.

The Isotopes are routinely near the top in attendance and merchandise sales in the minor leagues. However, Traub said they have no revenue coming in now. They are current on their rent so far, but they are in talks with the city over what to do about their next big payment.

“It’s always difficult to hear about local residents and local businesses who are hurting as a result of the pandemic’s effects on the economy,” a spokesperson from Mayor Tim Keller’s office said. “Also, the Isotopes are a big local favorite and we’re obviously disappointed that it appears there will not be any minor league baseball this year.”

In February, the Isotopes announced they sold the naming rights to the stadium, which they can do under the terms of their lease with the city. The team has not said how much it is collecting in the deal. On Friday, crews were working on getting the new name up to eventually welcome fans into the Rio Grande Credit Union Field.

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