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One, two, three lots were full at the ol’ ball game

RECORD FANS, RECORD PARKING: There was a record weekday-game crowd at Isotopes Park last Monday – 12,222 fans showed up to watch the ‘Topes play the Colorado Rockies in an exhibition game.

And they all had to park somewhere to get into the 1:05 p.m. game. Or not.

Readers report the ballpark’s A, B and C lots filled up long before the National Anthem, and unlike during a night or weekend game, the acres of adjacent University of New Mexico parking spaces were off limits.

Ed Manzanares, UNM’s associate athletic director of sports administration, says “it’s really simple. (Those) lot(s have) to be reserved for students.”

And Isotopes General Manager John Traub explains it was a perfect storm: “In all the games, this is the first time this type of issue has come up.”

“Our first Monday afternoon, blue skies and 70 degrees,” and the major league Rockies taking the diamond. It resulted in the highest-attended weekday game in the franchise’s 16-year history. And while 12,000-plus is no problem on a Saturday night – Traub says all the adjacent parking was a big positive when the stadium was renovated back in 2003 – this baseball crowd showed up at the same time UNM and CNM students needed access to the campus parking they had paid for and Science Technology employees were at work.

The deal between UNM and the ‘Topes states the lots to the south at the UNM football stadium and the Pit, to the north at CNM behind the Isotopes scoreboard, and to the west at the UNM Student Success Center and science-technology park are off-limits when class is in session and employees are at work, Manzanares says.

It’s not that the team wasn’t cognizant of potential traffic issues – in fact Traub worked with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to get the sewer line work on Avenida César Chávez/University put on hold the day of the Rockies game.

Traub and Manzanares met the day after the game to discuss the parking issue and potential mitigation measures. They will meet again this week. Their best advice for fans is to come early – Traub points out gates open at least an hour before game time, and 90 minutes before on super-popular nights like the Fourth of July or Mariachis game nights. Gate times are listed on the palm-card schedules and at milb.com/albuquerque.

There’s also a ride-share drop-off/pick-up area in Lot C on the third-base side of the stadium, and Traub says there are rumblings of a possible city-sponsored park-and-ride in the works.

Traub says “it’s 100 percent about customer service. We want to … learn from it and do everything we can do.” That’s important, especially if the schedules work to have the Rockies back next season. Manzanares says UNM and the Isotopes are working to be “strategic next year” and “collaborate and work something out” in light of the existing parking agreement.

ONE GUY WITH A SHOVEL? Larry reports he saw that recently on Interstate 40.

“I was traveling I-40 east bound on (March) 20 and a lone New Mexico Department of Transportation worker was filling the pot holes just before exit 175 about that time. He was applying cold patch one shovel full at a time, darting out into traffic.”

And Larry questions the safety of that method.

Kimberly Gallegos, who handles info for NMDOT’s District 3 Office, says she’ll forward the concern to the maintenance patrol supervisor, but “having worked here for the department going on 14 years, I have to tell you even though it seems unsafe for a quick pothole fill, sometimes this is the best way for our guys to get out there and get these filled. In the past, it has proved to be worse when they have their lights on as people tend to panic with the flashing lights.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.

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