The Mariners claim they need the public’s help to cover some necessary maintenance to Safeco Field.
The Mariners are also worth about $1.5 billion and are expected to grow in value. You can look up how much they’ve paid for their top-billed players. Robinson Cano alone gets $240 million over 10 years. The Mariners have a spare quarter of a billion dollars to drop on a an athlete who was suspended for 80 games for pissing positive on a drug test, but claim they just can’t make ends meet for the necessary improvements on the stadium taxpayers gifted them. Color me skeptical.
At a King County Council meeting yesterday, Councilmember Dave Upthegrove asked the lawyer for the Public Facilities District (PFD) if the team could afford to pay for the work themselves. Their attorney responded that they were “about $30 million short” of being able to pay for the improvements.
Without the county, it seems the Mariners will be unable to afford these repairs. If I wanted food stamps or free healthcare, I would need to prove to the government that I needed the help. Since the Mariners are asking for corporate welfare, they should have to shoulder that same burden.
Critics like Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and PFD vice chair Dale Sperling believe that funding this project is well within the Mariners’ means. Meanwhile, King County Executive Dow Constantine and the Seattle Times Editorial Board are convinced that the wealthy executives in the Mariner’s front office really can’t afford it.
But we’re operating on assumption here. It’s hard for us as lowly people, not billion dollar franchises, to conceptualize what it is the Mariners are going through. That’s because we don’t know anything concrete about the Mariners’ financials. Terrence A. Carroll, a former Superior Court judge and member of the PFD, agrees.
"... It is incomprehensible how more public money can be justified without detailed information as to the finances of this very successful enterprise,” Carroll wrote in a letter to the King County Council earlier this month. "At a minimum, this [public funding] should require a thorough review of their books, including spending and revenue sources.”
If we saw the team’s detailed financial statements, including their tax returns, we could find out how much their executives are making (some of whom share more similarities with Donald Trump than just not disclosing important financial information, like being accused of sexual misconduct). Maybe there’s some cost cutting measures the team could institute that would allow them to take care of the $500-million toy that the public already built them.
Asking taxpayers to pick up the tab when we see that wad of hundreds stuffed in the Mariners’ money clip is low. We don’t know how many hundreds there are, but boy, we sure would like to.
So c’mon, Mariners, don’t be such a Donald. Let us take a little look-see into your financials. What’s the harm? Your critics assume that paying for a new-and-improved Safeco Field is well within your means. If it’s not, well. Show us the proof.