ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Isotopes say they’re still trying to recoup their losses from the pandemic, and could get help from the federal government as a part of a bailout for minor league teams. The legislation that would divvy up $550 million among minor league teams has been introduced in both houses of Congress.
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This comes as the Triple-A team is back to nearly selling out the stadium after the pandemic canceled the entire 2020 season. “On July 4, we had the largest crowd in all of Minor League Baseball,” Isotopes General Manager John Traub said.
It’s a sense of normalcy following a year of no ticket sales, concessions, and the franchise furloughed 75-percent of their full-time staff. About 90-percent of those employees have since returned, Traub said.
“I think the final number was something like 99.8% of our normal revenue, we lost,” Traub explained. The revenue they did make was from online merchandise sales that Traub considered a drop in the bucket when compared to a normal year.
To help financially, the city waived the team’s annual rent for all of 2020. The Isotopes say they’re current on their quarterly payments in 2021. The city said it’s received about $175,000 in rent and another $15,000 in surcharge fees, which are a fraction of ticket costs, concessions and merchandise.
“We still are not really realizing a lot of new revenue from this year. We’re still working with last year’s revenue,” Traub said.
The team said it could benefit from the Minor League Baseball aid package introduced to Congress last month. The bill would pay up to $15 million per minor league franchise to help struggling, independently-owned teams with unused COVID relief funds. “We have to see what we’d qualify for and how that would be applied,” Traub said. “It won’t make us fully whole, but it’ll get us in the right direction.”
Forbes has named the popular franchise among the most valuable minor league teams, reportedly worth $34 million back in 2016.
It’s unclear exactly how much they’re trying to recoup. “We never really disclose specifics, but trust me, it was multiple millions of dollars,” Traub said.
If crowds are any indication, New Mexicans are eager to help get their team back on track. “We’re part of the fabric of this community. People missed it last year. We missed it last year,” Traub added.
The Isotopes’ partial owner, Ken Young, also owns three other minor league teams that could benefit from this bill, including two in Maryland and one in Virginia.