The new lease, which was approved by the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, will go into effect in 2019
Not that there was any doubt, but the Mariners will stay in Seattle at Safeco Field, or whatever its new name will be in 2019, for many years to come.
With the original 20-year ballpark lease expiring at the end of 2018, the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) on Wednesday approved terms for a new 25-year lease for the Mariners to remain at Safeco Field. The agreement was negotiated between the PFD and Mariners and includes provisions for two three-year options that could extend the terms of the lease through 2049.
“We want this ballpark to be our home for the next 100 years. Safeco Field should be to Seattle and to the Mariners what Wrigley Field is to Chicago and the Cubs and Fenway Park is to Boston and the Red Sox,” Mariners chairman and manager partner John Stanton said in a statement. “We sincerely appreciate our partnership with the PFD, who share our vision to ensure that our fans will continue to enjoy Major League Baseball in a state-of-the-art facility for decades to come.”
The PFD is a board of seven members — Virginia Anderson (Chair), Dale Sperling (Vice-Chair), Stacy Graven, Craig Kinzer, Paul Mar, Charles Royer and Jesus Sanchez.
“As stewards of this publicly-owned facility, we have been guided by our responsibility to ensure that this ballpark remains among the finest venues in all of baseball,” Anderson said in a statement. “Safeco Field has been consistently recognized as one of the best maintained and most beloved ballparks in the country over the last 20 years, and the commitments we have received from the Seattle Mariners in these lease terms guarantee that, as the ballpark ages, it will remain a source of pride for all citizens in our community and state. The Seattle Mariners, with oversight by and accountability to the PFD, have taken excellent care of Safeco Field for nearly 20 years. These long-term lease terms ensure the Mariners will continue to meet these responsibilities on behalf of the owners of the facility, the citizens of the state of Washington.”
The new lease will take effect in 2019. Stanton said recently that once the lease was agreed upon the process to announce a new naming-rights partner, replacing Safeco Insurance, would follow. He hoped to announce that during this season.
Like with any lease agreement, this includes a long-term plan for capital investment in the publicly-owned facility. This is to ensure the upkeep or the stadium.
Per the release, the PFD and Mariners commissioned a study by Populous, a global architectural firm that specializes in design of sports facilities, arenas and convention centers. The findings identified $385 million in capital improvements to basic ballpark infrastructure that will be necessary over the next 25 years. The PFD and Mariners also want “to keep the ballpark in first-class condition.” So an additional $160 million will be needed for upgrades that go beyond the basic infrastructure improvements of the agreement. But those costs are the responsibility of the Mariners.
Here are the lease terms:
Over the life of the lease the Mariners will contribute some $650 million dollars to the PFD and the ballpark in the form of:
- Rent — $55 million over 25 years ($1.5 million per year with CPI escalation), at least $10 million of which will be applied to ballpark capital improvements;
- Capital Expenditures & Improvements – The Mariners will contribute $120 million to a new Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Fund for ballpark upgrades and improvements necessary to keep Safeco Field in first-class condition ($3.25 million per year with CPI escalation);
- Maintenance & Operations — The Mariners will continue to pay for all ballpark operation and routine maintenance costs, estimated at $250 million over the life of the lease. Over the last 19-years, the Mariners have invested over $350 million in maintenance, operations and capital improvements and repairs at the ballpark;
- Taxes collected on admissions and parking for ballpark events – An estimated $175 million will be generated from taxes collected on parking and tickets sold for Safeco Field events. The Mariners will direct these revenues to the PFD for contribution to the CapEx Fund;
- Revenue Sharing – 1.5-2 percent of revenue from ticket sales guaranteed for each year. This could provide over $50 million for the CapEx Fund;
- Neighborhood Improvement Fund – The Mariners will contribute to the newly created Ballpark Neighborhood Improvement Fund to be used at the discretion of the PFD to support various projects that enhance the communities surrounding Safeco Field.
- Over the life of the lease, 80 percent of the costs of capital expenditures, operations and maintenance will be paid by the Mariners through direct contributions to the PFD and taxes generated by ballpark events.
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