SBJ/September 9 - 15, 2002/Opinion

Mariners' Safeco Field always on solid ground

Thank you for the opportunity to correct some misstatements contained in the recent story about the new Seattle Seahawks stadium ["Open to everything: Stadium reflects Seattle's quirks," Aug. 19-25]. The actual final cost of construction of Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners, was approximately $514 million. Additionally, while there was no formal "cap" on public funding of the ballpark, not a penny more of public money than the initial bond offering was spent on construction of Safeco Field. All the additional costs, approximately $100 million, were paid in full by the ownership of the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners also take issue with the statement that a "very tight time frame" led to the cost overruns. The length of time for construction was 28 months, more than adequate for a major project such as Safeco Field. In fact, the Mariners even agreed to an additional three and a half months for construction, delaying the opening of Safeco Field from April 1999 to mid-July 1999.

The Seahawks project differed from Safeco Field in a very important way. The Public Stadium Authority did not have responsibility for design and construction management. That was entrusted to First & Goal, the entity also responsible for paying all cost overruns. On the Safeco Field project, the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District was charged with overseeing design and construction, yet the Mariners, who had no control over costs, were on the hook for the overages.

Lorraine Hine, chairwoman of the PSA, is correct that it's not fair to compare the two facilities. And had the Mariners had the same arrangement the Seahawks/First & Goal had for construction of their stadium, we believe that Safeco Field could have been completed on time and on budget.

Rebecca Hale

Seattle

Rebecca Hale is director of public information for the Seattle Mariners.

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