SBD/April 4, 2012/Facilities

Mariners Send Letter To City Officials Expressing Opposition To Arena Proposal

Lincoln said a single investor should not be allowed to determine stadium site
The Mariners in a “strongly worded letter to city and county leaders” have said that they need “to find another spot for a new sports arena,” according to Lynn Thompson of the SEATTLE TIMES. Mariners Chair & CEO Howard Lincoln, in a letter to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Exec Dow Constantine and members of the Seattle and King County councils, wrote, "The proposed Sodo location, in our view, simply does not work. It would bring scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate." The letter comes “a day after the Port of Seattle wrote a similar letter to the city's Arena Advisory Panel studying the proposal.” Lincoln said that the Mariners “in general support bringing in NBA and NHL teams, but he suggests that city and county officials look at alternate locations in Bellevue, Renton, Seattle Center and South Lake Union.” He added that a “single investor should not be allowed to determine the site.” S.F. hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, who proposed the Seattle arena, “declined to comment on the Mariners' letter, but has previously said he chose the Sodo location because it is zoned for stadiums and is served by light rail and buses, as well as having freeway access.” Over the past few days the Mariners' opposition to the arena location “appears to be intensifying.” The Public Facilities District, which oversees Safeco Field, "is advertising for a public-affairs specialist to coordinate the team's response to the proposed location of the new arena” (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/4). The AP’s Tim Booth noted the Mariners are the “first and largest local organization to express its desire for Christopher Hansen to look at other site options for his proposed arena” (AP, 4/3).

SO MANY QUESTIONS
: In Seattle, Geoff Baker notes there are many questions when it comes to the “2015 opt-out clause the Mariners have in their TV deal" with Root Sports Northwest. Baker: “Will they settle for the minimal amount of new money they'll get simply by asking for the current market rate pro-rated to their market's size? Or will they try to score more money by doing something unique and creative? Like starting their own regional sports network with the proposed NBA and NHL teams as content partners?” Needless to say, “if you plan on teaming up with these guys, sending out a letter opposing their arena location probably isn't the foundation upon which to build a lasting friendship.” Blocking a new arena and "effectively stalling the addition" of any potential NBA or NHL teams “keeps the playing field in the M's advantage short-term.” It means that, for the time being, they “won't have to compete with additional teams for season ticket sales, luxury suite rentals and general fan interest.” Baker asks, “What is the long-term plan of this team? The real long-term plan, not just a rebuilding phase where no real timetable for contention is ever set? ... Why do the Mariners say they support the NBA/NHL movement in Seattle while opposing the most tangible steps needed to make that a reality?” (SEATTLETIMES.com, 4/4).
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