ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Baseball is back. After more than a year and a half, the Albuquerque Isotopes took to the field in their home opener in front of fans. Fans said they are thrilled to finally be back and that the first game was ‘surreal.’
It is an experience Albuquerque Isotopes fans have been missing for more than a year now. “This is our entertainment,” fan Edward Antonio said.
Edward and Sharon Antonio have been fans since moving here in 2006 and have made it to just about every home series. Thursday was their first time back at Isotopes Park since the shutdown. “I have been waiting for this ever since I read the news,” Sharon said. “I have been watching for when tickets could go on sale and getting my stuff ready.”
They are two of several thousand fans welcomed back on Thursday. New measures at the park include mobile concession ordering, digital ticketing, and more. When Bernalillo County was in the Green tier of the state’s reopening framework, capacity was 50% or around 6,000 people.
General Manager John Traub said they were close to sold out at that number. Then on Wednesday, the state announced that the county is now Turquoise, meaning around 9,000 fans are allowed. “That has created quite a bit of logistical issues,” Traub said. “We are having to adjust on the fly. That is what the last 14 months gave taught us is that we have to be prepared for everything and do our best.”
Fans said it is good to be back at the ballpark. “I don’t care, win or lose, this is my team,” Sharon said.
Traub said he expects even more fans to come out for the rest of the games this weekend and throughout the season as people get word that capacity is now higher. The Isotopes currently have 350 game-day employees. Eighty-five percent were rehired from last year.