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A night at Isotopes Park

 

Earlier this month, Minor League Baseball released a report announcing the average cost for a family of four to attend a minor league baseball game.

On July 17, I took my adoring wife and two ruggedly handsome sons to Isotopes Park to see how the ‘Topes’ prices stacked up.

According to MiLB, the average cost across Triple-A games for two adult tickets (for the most economical fixed seats), two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers and parking is $75.39. Last Sunday at the Lab, we dropped $102.

Why the price difference?

Both refreshments and tickets were higher at Isotopes Park. And the fact we purchased $16 box seats rather than $12 reserved tickets upped the Isotopes experience even more.

Also, there is a $2 discount on tickets if they are purchased in advance of game day. We bought our tickets right before the first pitch. Children 2 and under are free, and kids 2-12, seniors ages 65 and above, and military with a valid ID qualify for a $1 discount off the Reserved Level seating price but not for box seats.

“We’re not only looking at what other teams are doing, but what movie theaters, other places in the region are doing,” Isotopes general manager John Traub said. “We try to be very family and price conscious when we’re coming up the prices.”

As we arrived for the game, my wife drove us into the parking lot west of University Stadium, where we paid $5 for parking. I would later find out that the parking charge is waived for vehicles with four or more occupants but only if you park in the carpool lot east of the football stadium.

Traub said the University of New Mexico is in charge of the parking, and he has asked for signs to be put up to clarify where exactly the free parking is but the school has refused. He also said UNM wanted to double the charge for parking this season but Traub fought them on it.

“UNM wanted to increase it to $10,” Traub said. “I said absolutely not. You can’t do that to our fans.”

As we exited the vehicle, my kids looked across Avenida Cesar Chavez and oohed and aahed at the spectacle of Isotopes Park. I looked across University Boulevard and developed a craving for pizza for some reason.

We crossed the street, took the obligatory photo with the giant baseball that has been on the corner since I was going to Dukes games at the old Sports Stadium as a kid, and went to the ticket office. The smell of hot dogs wafted through the air and cured my pizza craving.

My wife, Jennifer, and I spent $16 each for our box seats. For my 7-year-old Brody and 4-year-old Jaxon, the seats cost exactly the same despite their inability to sit down for more than six seconds at a time. In hindsight, the $8 berm tickets would have made more sense, and we could have sat in the reserved level for $12 each, the cheapest fixed-seating ticket the Isotopes offer.

According to MiLB, the average price of that ticket was $9.50.

But at least we were close to the action and seated behind the netting so my wife would be safe to stare at her phone for nine innings.

After finding our seats, we watched the ‘Topes take an early lead on a David Dahl RBI double and a two-run blast by Dustin Garneau. It was a good start but I had food on my mind.

We walked two laps around the massive concourse and my eyes glazed over with all the options circling my brain. The boys were still talking about how they couldn’t believe they got to high-five Orbit, the ‘Topes lovable mascot. My wife, who once decided what she wanted to eat for dinner approximately six days after I asked her, had trouble making up her mind. Since it’s a baseball game, we had hot dogs.

Four dogs for $17.

The average price for the same food in Triple-A is $15.88.

To wash down our tasty dinner, two sodas and two beers. Another $21.

Those beverages average $20.12 in Triple A.

“When Minor League Baseball does these surveys, they try to make it an apples to apples comparison,” Traub said. “In the ones they ask us to compare, we’re right there in terms of price.”

As we ate, drank and merrily enjoyed an ideal night for baseball — an overcast sky and 6:05 p.m. starting time gave a perfect reprieve from the suffocating heat of summer in Albuquerque — the boys noticed the Fun Zone beyond the berm in right-center field.

After the ‘Topes built a 7-2 lead, we made the trek from our seats to the enticing bounce houses, playground, carousel and “‘Topes Tower.”

We bought a sheet of 12 tickets for $10.

Over an hour later, the kids breathlessly exclaimed their love of the attractions in the Fun Zone. They repeatedly rolled down the grass hills as we went back to our seats to finish the game.

The Isotopes held on to beat Memphis 7-6 but life isn’t all about winning.

It was the first trip to an Isotopes game for my wife and sons but not our last. In fact we’re planning on returning during this homestand.

When asked what was his favorite part of the night, Brody replied: “The obstacle course bounce house. That was a dream come true.”

You can’t put a price on that.

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