The Seattle Mariners have inked a 25-year lease extension for the former Safeco Field, clearing the way for future upgrades and the reveal of a new naming-rights deal.
In May, the Mariners announced that they had come to terms on a 25-year lease extension with the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) that outlined future ballpark maintenance and upgrades. However, the agreement became the subject of considerable debate after it was proposed that King County contribute roughly $180 million in hotel/motel tax revenue over time to the ballpark. After much discussion, officials agreed to a plan in September that lowered that contribution to $135 million.
On Monday, the PFD Board voted to approve the 25-year lease as well as a companion non-relocation agreement with the Mariners. While ultimately solidifying the team’s place in Seattle and providing a formula for future ballpark improvements, the agreement is also expected to allow the Mariners to proceed with the announcement of a new naming-rights partner. The team’s agreement with Safeco Insurance expired after the 2018 season, and reports have indicated that T-Mobile and the Mariners are expected to announce a new ballpark naming-rights deal. More from the Seattle Times:
With the lease finalized, the Mariners are expected to announce a stadium naming rights deal — rumored to be with T-Mobile — in the coming days.
Per the lease, the Mariners are responsible for “performing all the maintenance, operations, and capital improvements and upgrades at the publicly-owned ballpark.” The Mariners will pay all costs beyond the fixed contributions made by the PFD and King County. According to the Mariners, the total investment in the ballpark over the term is expected to exceed $600 million. The Mariners will receive $135 million in public financing, which was lowered from an earlier lease agreement. Per the news release from the Mariners, the new lease “strengthens the PFD’s oversight role, provides increased community benefits, including a ballpark neighborhood improvement fund, and provides long-term incentives to keep the Mariners in Seattle. The non-relocation agreement also requires the club to pay the public damages if they breach their agreement by relocating the team out of Seattle.”
“The new lease not only keeps the Mariners here for another 25 years, it substantially strengthens the PFD’s oversight role and ensures that we have locked in the financial commitments needed to keep this ballpark among the best in the country,” said Virginia Anderson, Chair of the PFD in a statement. “The club will continue to upgrade this publicly-owned facility, and — with our new non-relocation agreement, one of the strongest in Major League Baseball — we are protecting the public’s investment in the facility. We appreciate the Mariners’ desire to keep our ballpark among the top in Major League Baseball, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the Club as we steward this facility in the years ahead.”
Safeco Field originally opened for the Mariners during the 1999 season, and kept the same name through the 2018 campaign. The Mariners and Safeco had previously announced in June 2017 that their original 20-year agreement would not be renewed once it expired.
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