It sounds like the city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League) have mandatory Isotopes Park upgrades under control in the wake of new MLB facilities requirements for MiLB ballparks.
It doesn’t sound we’ll see any major renovations as a result of the mandatory upgrades: the ballpark has been maintained pretty well and the team isn’t asking for major funds on the fan side. Instead, the work will be done to address issues on the player side, per KRQE.com:
According to the city, some of the needed changes include adding female changing rooms, upgrading dining facilities for players, and expanding the weight room. “It’s going to be minimally evasive to people. They probably won’t even see a lot of these things, but it’s just one of the things if you’re going to have a team in your hometown or in your facility, the facilities have to be up to compliance,” said Isotopes GM John Traub.
In its latest effort, the city is asking the state for $2 million in capital outlay funding this session to help upgrade coaches’ and players’ locker rooms. The city is asking voters for another $1.5 million in bond money this November.
“We’ve done a lot of things on our own, the city’s done a lot of things, and together it’s been a great partnership. The city owns this facility but we operate this facility. And we operate it as if it’s ours, inviting three-quarters of a million people into our home every year, and we want to make sure that this ballpark stays as tip top condition and remains the pride of this community for a long, long, time,” said Traub.
The ballpark change fans will notice the most in 2023 has little to do with new MiLB facility standards, but is the result of a request from Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies to remove the center-field hill modeled after Tal’s Hill in Houston’s Minute Maid Park. When Minute Maid Park first opened in 2000, it included the man-made center-field hill at the suggestion of Tal Smith. Smith, who was an Astros executive at the time, noted that the hill could be an homage to early 20th century ballparks and a throwback to the days when there were no warning tracks and hills served a rudimentary purpose. Crosley Field famously featured a similar large sloped terrace in the outfield, while Duffy’s Cliff was a 10-foot-high hill in front of Fenway Park’s Green Monster through 1933, named for former Red Sox outfielder Duffy Lewis. (The Fenway Park hill was due to the ballpark design, not as a warning track.) Similar field-of-play hills still exist: Isotopes Park opened with a similar hill in center field, while Finch Field, home of the High Point-Thomasville HiToms (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League) has an outfield hill dating back to the ballpark’s use as a MiLB facility.