King County's $190 Million Proposal to Safeco Field: Déjà Vu All Over Again



One of the main points of Westneat's article, which Nick omitted for some reason, is that we can actually build more housing more quickly using the funding tentatively destined for Safeco.

This is because the head tax is set to lapse in 5 years, which limits bonding opportunities. The funding earmarked for Safeco does not have this limitation.

Also, if the Mariners want to increase attendance, rather than building new beer gardens every few years, they should focus on playing better baseball. The team has sucked for the past 12 years.


How many anti-tax/bootstraps zealots will complain about corporate welfare today?


A couple of things:
• The public owns Safeco Field. The Mariners are a lessee. Doesn't the public have a responsibility to maintain their own facility (with help from the lessee)?
• This maintenance will be funded through the hotel/motel tax. Licata himself states that 57% of Mariner game attendees are not from King County (if you ever go to Safeco for a Blue Jays series, you'll meet tens of thousands of Canadians). Having a facility worth traveling to from Toronto or Boston or New York certainly helps add to the hotel/motel coffers.


@2 "Corporate" Welfare?

Please. It can only be Welfare (or "Socialism"), if it goes to Human Beings in need.* Otherwise, those Hundreds of Million$$$ are merely Business, as per Usual.

And therefor (unquestionably) Good.

So many Victims.

*get a godamn JOB, lazyass!


Mr. Licata's piece argues that taxpayers are going to be on the hook for the new lease, but a recent article at FanGraphs seems to say just the opposite ( This article--and a linked report from the University of Utah summarizing the the issue--are both good reads if you're curious about the economics of stadium financing.

The FanGraphs article cites an AP report which says that the M's will pay "100% of maintenance and operation costs at the stadium." Also, the author notes that the M's will voluntarily shoulder 80% of the burden of capital improvements. As #3 points out, the public owns Safeco Field. Getting the tenant to pay 80% of the necessary capital costs seems like a coup, no?

I guess it could be argued (which Mr. Licata is doing, I think) that any money the public spends on Safeco is money that should be spent on housing/education/etc. It's a whole different discussion, but if cities start sticking up for themselves and forcing billionaire owners to completely self-finance their own stadia then sure, taxpayers won't have to pony up for anything sports-related. But that's not the case here--Safeco was originally built with public funds and continues to be owned by the public, so the city should be invested in keeping it in good working order. To that end, and especially in the context of other stadium lease agreements, this seems to be about as good a deal as a city can get.


Hell to the Mother Fuck No.

They've been raking in profits while delivering a substandard product for 15 years (not that it matters).

How about this: The city gives them a $190m loan at reasonable rates. The Mariners then collect the capital from nearby businesses they claim will be helped most by increased attendance in order to pay it down. Let the M's do the legwork of convincing the community to pay for the request.

What are they gonna do, threaten to relocate?


Earthquake on the Seattle Fault Line underneath the stadium in 100...99...98...97...96... .. . . .


Where are all the "Free Market" Fundamentalists now?
Where are all the "No Socialism!" types now?

@3 - If the "public" owns "Safeco" Field, why TF is it named "Safeco Field"? Let fucking Safeco pay for maintenance, upgrades,etc. Or take the stupid name off and re-name is something less .... corporate possession-ey. Like Emerald Stadium. Or Evergreen Stadium. Or something better than some stupid corpo name. LAME SOX.

@4 - "Corporations are people" --Mitt Romney
"Corporations have Free Speech, like people." -- Supreme Court (Kennedy)
Ergo, socialism. Either corporations are people, or they are not.
You can't have it both ways. :>)


@8, from Forbes one year ago.

"Safeco Insurance and the Seattle Mariners jointly announced today that their 20-year ballpark naming rights deal will not be extended past 2018. The deal that reportedly cost $1.8 million annually will have accounted for $36 million in total revenues by the time the deal is officially over."

Don't know who gets the money.


The Mariners aren't "a tenant." The Mariners are "THE tenant" and the only tenant. Anyone else using the stadium sub leases from the Mariners. There is no doubt that the stadium exists for the sole purpose of Mariners (a private business). It is also NOT owned by King County. It is owned by a Public Facilities District (a public entity). Any responsible landlord charges enough rent to cover the upkeep of the property. Also, the Mariners are proposing $160 million in unnecessary "nice to have" upgrades-- like a fancier entrance to the diamond club. So this debate isn't really about upkeep of the is about whether to invest in fancy upgrades. Finally-- remember this is a business worth more than $1.2 billion. The owners have the potential of making (literally) a billion dollars in profit at some point when they sell the team. Why should we spend money to subsidize them when that same money can be spent on things like workforce housing near transit that helps with the housing affordability crisis facing EVERYONE in our region.?


Man, if only there was a way for Safeco Field to generate income without this.


The problem is that major league baseball, like so many other professional sports, is an unregulated monopoly. If the Mariners leave (like the Sonics did) then baseball fans would be screwed. Personally, it wouldn't bother me much. But if I was a fan, it would mean I could not watch big league baseball (it isn't like there are a dozen different local teams to choose from). It would be as if if suddenly there were no symphony, musicals, or professional dance. The only alternative would be to travel to a different city (which would suck).

It doesn't have to be that way, of course. It makes sense for major league sports to operate as a monopoly (it is tough to imagine a dozen major league baseball teams) but it should be regulated. A federal commission should decide whether a team can leave a city, and in most cases, they would say no. If a team in, say, Buffalo decided to move to Phoenix, the league might approve it, and then give Buffalo a little compensation. But Seattle to Oklahoma City? Fuck no. That makes no financial sense, nor does it make sense in terms of the number of people that could enjoy the sport.

Another alternative is for the city to operate the team. I believe the Green Bay Packers are the only team that works this way. It always cracks me up when people claim that socialism can't work, and I point out the the Packers have won the most league championships, including four super bowl victories. Anyway, such an arrangement would be not be allowed -- the league wouldn't allow it (the Packers were grandfathered in). Rules like that, of course, are another example of how each league operates as a monopoly (there really is only one big baseball league).

So, instead we have teams doing what monopolies do -- screw over the public. I think the only logical way to deal with it is not locally, but nationally. We need to push for federal regulation of sports monopolies, along with the other monopolies (and especially the monopsonies).


It works out to about $20 million a year;
the Mariners sell about 2.2 million tickets a year;
perhaps tax the tickets $5 each-
call it a "user fee"?


If the Mariners were available on a free TV network that we could stream and not the Root Sports cable station, it would make it easier for me to accept the idea of publicly funding the upgrades (though I'm not really opposed to keeping the stadium viable). Right now, the public has to pay for a fairly expensive tier of cable to get the games which seems a shame and shuts out so many folks who otherwise would have a chance to see lots of games on TV.