- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Bye-bye Dodgers. Hello Colorado Rockies.

Officials with the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Rockies signed a four-year player development agreement during a news conference Wednesday, marking the official move of the major league team’s Triple-A affiliation from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque.

The Isotopes had been affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008 until the team cut its ties last month.

“This is the start of a new era,” said John Traub, the Isotopes general manager.

Officials with the Rockies and the Isotopes said their new relationship makes sense for geographical reasons and because Albuquerque feels like an extension of home for the major league team.

“It’s a six-hour drive from here into Denver. It’s a one-hour flight,” said Jeff Bridich, the Rockies senior director of player development. “Did that play into it? Absolutely. And the fact that this is a large city and growing city and hopefully it’s growing full of Rockies fans.”

Similar altitudes, a state-of-the-art ball field and the fan bases for both the Rockies and the Isotopes were also considerations for coming to Albuquerque, the officials said.

Bridich said the Rockies were looking to do certain things and the move from Colorado Springs stemmed from business considerations.

The Rockies also announced Wednesday that the New Britain Rock Cats will be the Double-A franchise instead of the Tulsa Drillers.

For Isotopes General Manager John Traub, the four-year contract offers stability for the franchise. He said the Isotopes are “in this for the long haul” and he wanted to do what was best for baseball fans in Albuquerque.

“If you look at the fan base, the stadium, the ownership, from the player development standpoint, it would be a very attractive situation,” he said. “It’s certainly great to be wanted.”

Albuquerque finished the 2014 Pacific Coast League season on Sept. 1 with a 62-80 record.

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