With the Mariners’ 2019 season mercifully coming to an end Sunday, the activity at T-Mobile Park actually will increase after the final out is made in Game No. 162.
As part of their renewed 25-year lease with the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD), the Mariners have committed to spending more than $280 million in improvements over a 10-year period. As part of the agreement, the PFD will receive $135 million in taxpayer funds that will go to the stadium. Because of some acrimony about the use of public money, it’s not surprising the Mariners are showing where they are spending that money.
The Mariners announced their first round of upgrades to the stadium in a presentation Thursday morning to local media members, featuring artistic renderings of the changes. The improvements will cost the Mariners $29.8 million. Construction will begin immediately after the season with the plan to have them all in place when the Mariners open the 2020 season on March 26 at home against the Rangers.
Per the Mariners’ news release, it will included 49 basic infrastructure projects as well as other plans that are supposed to enhance the fan experience.
“At 20 years of age, T-Mobile Park is still in good condition and a great place to watch baseball,” said Mariners CEO Kevin Mather in a statement. “The work we will be doing for next season and the years to come will ensure that it continues to be a first-class experience for fans and is our home for generations to come.”
The 49 basic and “necessary” infrastructure improvements will cost an estimated $20.56 million. Some of the major upgrades include:
- Replacement of roof wheels ($2 million)
- Replacement of the ballpark’s original, now 20-year-old sound system ($7 million)
- Replacement of failing point-of-sale system to improve concessions ($1.6 million)
- American Disabilities Act (ADA) fan improvements ($600,000)
- Miscellaneous painting, equipment, plumbing and fixtures ($3.14 million)
The mechanism that opens and closes the retractable roof needs new axles for the wheels as well as replacement of “roof rail clips.” The video security system will be replaced. Repairs to cracked concrete and modernization of the lighting of the main concourse and parking garage also are highlighted among the 49 improvements.
Beyond the basic infrastructure, the Mariners plan to spend $9.24 million in “necessary fan upgrades,” addressing the growing desire of fans to have common areas to stand, move around and watch the game at their leisure instead of being confined to their seats. They’ve become common in baseball stadiums across the country. The proposed changes include:
- Expansion of left field gate capacity ($1.725 million)
- Lookout Landing Bar/Group space ($1.74 million)
- Rooftop boardwalk ($3.45 million)
- Terrace club tables and club loge boxes addition ($2.3 million)
There has been a bottleneck issue at the left-field gates since MLB security introduced the usage of mandatory metal detectors a few seasons ago. To offset that, the Mariners now will have 15 gates in left field to enter the stadium. The Mariners also will remove the ticket office next to The ‘Pen area, adding more concessions and opening the spaces. Fans can enter directly into The ‘Pen from the street.
The Lookout Landing area on the 300 level has been a common gathering spot for fans. They will make a rooftop bar area and open it up for a communal open area for all fans. Per the release, “the atmosphere will be patterned after a casual backyard experience with bench seating and picnic tables.” The area will be available to be rented by groups for games.
The rooftop boardwalk is a renovation of the area on the 300 level directly behind home plate called the rotunda. It will include a raised walkway to “enhance” views of Puget Sound. It will have bench seating, tables, outdoor LED monitors, a new bar area and a Kids Corner with baseball themed activities.
The terrace club project will change the seating concept on the first-base line. The upper level of those seats will be replaced by 18 terrace club tables that will accommodate four people at each table. There will be 10 loge boxes with padded sofa style seats that will also accommodate four people. Both areas will have personal video monitors, charging stations for mobile devices and in-seat wait staff with exclusive menu options. The changes represent a reduction of 367 seats in the terrace club.