ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Fans Can See Homer, Marge
Homer and Marge Simpson finally have arrived at Isotopes Park. So has $5 parking.
In a news conference Wednesday to unveil life-size statues of TV animation’s first couple at the park, the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball club also revealed plans to mimic the University of New Mexico’s parking policy for home football and basketball games.
Parking around the baseball stadium for all Albuquerque home games will cost $5. The season starts April 12.
Home opener: New Orleans at Albuquerque, 6:35 p.m.
“This is all part of a master plan,” Isotopes general manager John Traub said of the parking fee. “You can already see $60 million worth of that plan going into effect across the street (the Pit renovation). Part of that plan is the refurbishing of parking lots, improving the security and the safety of parking lots, the lighting, surfacing. Parking is just one facet of this master plan.
“We do have a partnership with UNM. UNM is going to be operating the lots and they’re going to be operating it exactly like they’ve done for the last several months.”
Traub stressed that, as with UNM events, parking is free to those who have four or more in their cars.
The difference is that the Isotopes have 72 home games whereas the football team has six and the men’s and women’s basketball teams have close to 20 each.
“The average fan comes to probably five to seven games a year,” Traub said. “We are offering our season-ticket holders a discounted pass.”
UNM caused a minor uproar when it first announced a charge for parking in August, but the protests died down rather quickly.
“We haven’t really heard anything (from fans) since September,” UNM events manager Michael Haggerty said. “Of course, winning helps that. Now, anywhere you go for a sporting event across the country, you’ve got to pay to park. There are so many costs involved with putting on a show now. Unfortunately, we’ve got to do this.”
At least, it won’t cost anything to park on the benches next to Homer and Marge, both of whom will be placed at yet-to-be-disclosed locations of the concourse and available for photo opportunities with fans.
The team’s nickname originated from an episode of “The Simpsons.”
The Traub said he and his family spotted the statues on benches outside an eclectic furniture store in Los Angeles last fall and negotiated the purchase of the benches over the next couple of weeks.
“One thing that Ken (Isotopes president Young) had always talked about was how great and exciting it would be if we had a life-size statue of Homer Simpson in the stadium for fans to be able to take pictures,” Traub said. “After a couple of weeks of haggling with the owner of this place, we found our life-size statues that we are proud to bring to Isotopes Park this season.”
NOTES: Other promotions include a bobblehead doll night of legendary manager Tommy Lasorda in his Dukes uniform, circa 1972, for Dukes Retro Night on July 17, a couple of Dodgers-related giveaways and 10 postgame fireworks shows.
… March 13 will be a busy day at the park. Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. The team will hold its annual Select-A-Seat promotion, allow fans to take self-guided tours of the park for its Open House and hold national anthem auditions.