ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Baseball season is upon us as major and minor league ballgames kick off across the country. Locally, the Isotopes will open the gates this week at Isotopes Park, which has been the name of their home since the start. But will we ever see a naming rights deal?
“This has become a community venue, so we’re very excited to open up these gates on Thursday night,” General Manager John Traub told KRQE News 13 on Monday.
For 15 years, the Isotopes have played at Isotopes Park. The name is unlike most minor league venues, who have sold their naming rights.
There’s the Salt Lake Bees who play at Smith’s Ballpark, or the El Paso Chihuahuas who play at Southwest University Stadium, for example.
These deals reportedly come with payouts ranging from hundreds of thousands to more than $1 million.
So, will the Isotopes — a roughly $34 million franchise — ever get its own sponsor?
“It’s got to be the right fit for us, for the city, it’s got to be the right fit for the fans and for the sponsor,” Traub said.
The GM says there’s been talks in the past, but nothing he would dub a “close call,” and after years of branding Isotopes Park, Traub says he’s in no rush to make it happen.
“Naming rights, is something that… it’s hard,” he explained. “Once you, the community, gets to know a place called Isotopes Park, if you just call it ABC stadium, maybe they don’t know where that is.”
Traub says he’s open to the idea of naming the field and keeping the park name, so it would be ‘Blank’ Field at Isotopes Park. It’s kind of like The Pit deal, “WisePies Arena, AKA The Pit.”
Other minor league teams, like the Sacramento River Cats and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, have done the same with their fields — Raley Field and Security Service Field.
“The brand of Isotopes Park has become synonymous… it’s become the fabric of the community and we’re not in any rush necessarily to change that,” Traub said.
Speaking of community, one of the factors important to Traub is that the company who buys the naming rights has strong ties to New Mexico or Albuquerque. He wouldn’t want some Fortune 500 company from out of state to just slap its name on the sign and call it a day.
Traub also says he’s in no rush because the Isotopes don’t need a sponsor the keep the lights on.
The team had a reported 2016 revenue of more than $12 million.