The noise was deafening, even louder than a standing ovation for Ken Griffey Jr. in the Kingdome.
The final piles are being driven for the Seattle Mariners’ new $414 million stadium across the street from the Kingdome in downtown Seattle.
“We’re looking good,” executive director Ken Johnsen of the Public Facilities District said Thursday after a tour of the site. “We’re right where we want to be.”
If all goes as scheduled, Griffey and the Mariners will move into their new home in July 1999.
The last 50 of 1,400 piles are being driven 80 to 90 feet into the ground before the stadium begins to go vertical.
“I’ll bet the neighbors will be happy when this noise stops,” Johnsen said with a smile.
About 200 workers were at the site Thursday. By next spring, that total will be 1,000.
Griffey, the top vote-getter for last week’s All-Star game in Cleveland, has been involved in giving Johnsen and facilities district officials his input into construction of the new stadium.
Former all-stars Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson have toured the site.
The Mariners have opted to occupy the first-base dugout of their new ballpark.
“It’s exciting to see the players’ reaction to the stadium,” Johnsen said. “It’s where they’re going to play in a few years and, naturally, they want to have their say.”
Griffey, Seattle’s center fielder and a left-handed hitter, and Buhner, who works next to him in right field and hits right-handed, have had a friendly argument about one the new ballpark’s dimensions; 326 feet down the right-field foul line.
“He (Griffey) wanted to bring right field in and Buhner said, ‘No way,’ ” Johnsen said.
The Mariners face “a huge chore” when they move out of the 59,084-seat Kingdome into their new stadium, Aust said.
“It’s something we’re looking into now,” he said. “We don’t know our schedule for ‘98 much less ‘99.”
Johnsen said the new stadium looked like it would come in on budget. The facilities district was helped this month when the low bid to build a retractable roof for the new stadium was $39 million, $3.5 million less than the architects estimated.
The stadium is one of three retractable-roof ballparks now under construction. The others are in Milwaukee and Phoenix.
Demolition of the Kingdome, which has been the Mariners’ home for 21 seasons, will start in January 2000 for construction of a new $425 million outdoor football stadium for the Seattle Seahawks. The new football stadium will be completed in July 2002.
xxxx MOVING IN The Mariners will start the 1999 season in the Kingdome. After the All-Star game that year, they’ll move across the street into their new 45,611-seat home. They’d like to host the All-Star game - as they did in 1979 in the Kingdome - sometime between 2003 and 2007, Mariners public relations director Dave Aust said.
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