Pouring concrete and disposing of dirt have run up the tab, but work on the Seattle Mariners’ new stadium is ahead of schedule.
And so is the naming of it.
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said on Friday that negotiations with an undisclosed number of businesses should yield a title sponsor for the new stadium “by the end of April.”
“It’s kind of like contract negotiations,” said Armstrong. “We’re having discussions with individual businesses on a confidential basis, because we have a lot of friends out there and there’s been a lot more interest than we originally anticipated. And we want to preserve all our relationships.”
Armstrong did not identify how many businesses have expressed an interest, nor what dollar figure a title sponsorship might fetch.
But he did say the Mariners would like to strike a 20-year deal to match the length of their lease.
As for selling off the name of the stadium, Armstrong acknowledged that the ballclub might make some of its fans unhappy “but we’d like to minimalize that.
“Whether it’s Charley Ebbets naming it after himself or whether it’s named for the area or what have you, parks get named. We’re trying to do it in a way that we think will be good for the region, the franchise, the community and therefore good for the game.”
Two sponsors and names that have apparently been ruled out: Starbucks Grounds and Boeing Field.
Armstrong said work on the stadium continues ahead of the pace that will allow it to open on the July 9, 1999, target date “but we’re still 15 months out and there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Stadium officials are being asked to release another $3 million of the project’s contingency budget to cover increases in costs. So far, $14 million of the $24 million contingency budget has been spent, with the project 40 percent complete.
Still, stadium board director Ken Johnsen said he expects the $417 million project to come in on budget.
On other stadium topics, Armstrong said:
That, ideally, the first game in the new stadium would be a day game.
If ground rules could be worked out, the retractable roof could be opened and closed - a 20-minute process - during games depending on weather fronts expected.
A study of weather patterns indicates the roof would be open “30 of the first 40 games” and “50-50 the last 20 or so.”
The club expects close to 30,000 season tickets to be purchased in the initial sales push for the 46,000-seat stadium.
“You always want to leave some for groups and individuals,” he said. “Then we have to decide whether we want to sell them all in advance like Cleveland, or leave some available.”