A $50 million payout from Major League Baseball last year has led to the Mariners for the first time sharing profits with a public authority overseeing their home stadium.
The $4.6 million the team is paying the stadium’s Public Facilities District (PFD) will go to upkeep and improvements in and around T-Mobile Park as per a profit-sharing mechanism the team negotiated back when the $517 million ballpark first opened in 1999 after being subsidized with $372 million in public funding. That profit-sharing could only be triggered once Mariners owners recovered $200 million in operating losses they say they sustained from July 1, 1995, through Oct. 31, 1999, during the team’s final Kingdome years.
That threshold was surpassed last season when all 30 teams received a $50 million payout for the late 2017 sale of a majority stake in the league’s BAMTECH Media online streaming service.
“MLB was able to negotiate an excellent price for the sale of BAMTECH,” Mariners CEO John Stanton said in a release. “Without the one-time windfall from MLB, the Mariners would not have had a profit for 2018 and there would have been no profit share with the PFD. This is great news for the ballpark, the fans and the neighborhoods that surround T-Mobile Park.”
The profit-sharing arrangement ended last season with the expiration of the team’s former lease. A new 25-year lease agreed to last summer will see the team spend $600 million to improve and maintain the ballpark in a “first class” manner and share a percentage of revenue with the PFD based off ticket sales and T-Mobile Park events that isn’t linked to profits as in the prior deal.
The new lease came under fire last summer when it was revealed the team was seeking up to $185 million in public money from a King County hotel and motel tax fund earmarked for tourism. After some public outcry and a King County council member withdrawing her support for the deal, the Mariners agreed to take $50 million less from the council and will now receive $135 million in tax money over the life of the lease.
The council narrowly approved the vote in a 5-4 decision. The $50 million windfall for the Mariners in the BAMTECH sale wound up being the exact amount the team agreed to see its tax subsidy reduced by.