ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After losing a whole season to the pandemic, Major League Baseball says it’s time to “play ball” with plans for Major League and Triple-A teams — including the Albuquerque Isotopes — to start on-time in April. The Albuquerque Isotopes say the future of the season is still up in the air because of our current public health order, so they’re going over contingency plans. However, after a canceled 2020 season, they say they’re ready to get back on the field.
“We’re absolutely hopeful that we’re going to have a season in 2021,” said John Traub, general manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes. “We’re optimistic that we’re going to have games and they’re going to be played in Albuquerque.”
What happens if Bernalillo County is still not in the green? Could the Isotopes be forced to leave the state? Traub says that answer is still a few months away. “That’s part of the discussion, figuring out what’s going to happen. We don’t know yet,” said Traub. “Major League Baseball is aware of the situation, the Colorado Rockies are aware of the situation, and we’ve just got to see what happens.”
Some sports teams have resorted to resuming play but without fans in the stands. That’s something Traub says does not work for the Isotopes who rely on ticket sales to keep going. “Just like 2020, there’s really not a model that is for our industry and how we have to operate that would see us being able to play in this ballpark without fans,” said Traub. “We need fans to be able to sustain our business so that’s a very, very vital part of our operation.”
As more New Mexicans get the COVID-19 vaccine, could it be required to enter the Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park? Traub says that’s not up to him but could be a future directive from the state or MLB, but season tickets are currently on sale.
“Throughout professional baseball, we’re all going to have to adjust based on what’s happening with the vaccines, with the state, of the restrictions, and kind of with the guidance of Major League Baseball,” said Traub. “With the rollout of the vaccinations, it’s going to be some time before everyone has access to the vaccine, so I’m not sure how realistic requiring that is going to be, but it’s premature so it’s hard to say how that’s going to play out.”
Still, he says baseball is a part of the fabric of the Albuquerque community. They look forward to being a part of the healing process moving forward. “Obviously last year when we lost our entire season, the amount of support that we got from the community was just tremendous,” said Traub. “We know people love the Isotopes, we know people love coming to the ballpark and we’re absolutely looking forward to getting going again.”
The schedule and official start date for the 2021 season are currently up in the air, but the Isotopes hope play can resume in April like normal. MLB is aiming for the majors and Triple-A teams to start on time. Double- and Single-A teams’ schedules will be delayed.