We’ll withhold judgment for now on the magenta lighting scheme and the punniest nickname.
Regardless, T-Mobile Park is an outstanding choice for naming the publicly-owned ballpark leased by the Mariners.
This is also a positive ending to lease negotiations with the team that became overly politicized this year. The deal secured a long-term commitment by owners to remain in Seattle and invest at least $600 million into facility maintenance and upgrades over the next 25 years. The public will contribute through King County lodging taxes that were created to support pro sports facilities but are now mostly used to fund housing and arts; about 12 percent will go to ballpark maintenance.
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Naming rights are the final piece of the puzzle, with T-Mobile contributing $87.5 million to brand the stadium over the next 25 years.
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The Puget Sound region will also benefit from this exposure. Naming the ballpark for T-Mobile highlights the Puget Sound region’s past contribution to creating the modern wireless industry and its current role building technology products and services that continue changing the world.
Bellevue-based T-Mobile US is a descendant of Western Wireless, another Bellevue company started by former McCaw Cellular executive John Stanton, who is now chairman of the Mariners.
The Mariners ownership group has long been composed largely of successful, local technology entrepreneurs and Nintendo, who have kept major league baseball going in Seattle through ups, downs and more downs. Stanton joined the group in 2000 and became chairman and CEO in 2016 when Nintendo sold its majority interest. As CEO, he’s pledged to keep the team in town and redouble efforts to win a pennant, though that’s going to take patience as the team undergoes rebuilding.
Safeco Field recognized an insurance company that was formerly a marquee local employer and community benefactor. But Safeco was sold to a Boston company in 2008. CenturyLink Field, the football stadium next door, is named for a Louisiana-based telecommunications company that last year committed $162.7 million to extend its naming rights from 2019 to 2033.
Meanwhile T-Mobile is merging with Sprint, a deal that raised questions about its future presence in this region, where it’s grown 75 percent to 8,000 employees over the last five years.
But the company has said it will stay and grow its primary headquarters here, and the ballpark deal reiterates its local commitment. T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a release that this “isn’t just some corporate-branded sponsorship to us … this is about supporting the community and our hometown Mariners in building a World Series-caliber team!”
T-Mobile’s been on a remarkable winning streak lately. We’re looking forward to the Mariners sharing that mojo and decades of great baseball ahead.