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So long, Safeco – Mariners’ stadium is now T-Mobile Park

The view from the upper deck of the former Safeco Field in October, 2017, which will become T-Mobile Stadium, pending approval by the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD). On Wednesday, the Mariners and Bellevue-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced a naming rights agreement that will last for the next 25 years. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
The view from the upper deck of the former Safeco Field in October, 2017, which will become T-Mobile Stadium, pending approval by the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD). On Wednesday, the Mariners and Bellevue-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced a naming rights agreement that will last for the next 25 years. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

Welcome to T-Mobile Park.

For the first time since its construction in 1998 and opening in 1999, the baseball stadium in the SoDo district will be called something other than Safeco Field.

On Wednesday morning, the Mariners and the Bellevue-based telecommunications giant announced a naming rights agreement that will last for the next 25 years. The agreement still must be approved the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD).

“T-Mobile has a deep commitment to this community, a passion for customer service and a well-earned reputation as a leader in innovation,” said John Stanton, the Mariners’ chairman and managing partner, in a statement. “These are the qualities that make T-Mobile the right partner to name this iconic ballpark.”

T-Mobile, which has about 5,500 employees in its Bellevue headquarters, announced a plan to merge with competitor Sprint earlier this year. The proposed $26.5 billion merger is being considered by regulators.

“The Un-carrier is always shaking things up for the better, and this time we’re going BIG with the Seattle Mariners for all their fans,” said John Legere, T-Mobile CEO in a statement. “T-Mobile Park isn’t just some corporate-branded sponsorship to us…this is about supporting the community and our hometown Mariners in building a World Series-caliber team!”

The previous naming-rights agreement with Safeco ended after the 2018 season. The insurance company announced it had elected not to renew its agreement with the Mariners in 2017 after 20 years. Recently the memorable and visible Safeco Field sign on the outside of the retractable roof and other signage in the stadium had been removed.

Released renderings show a magenta glow from the the stadium, which follows T-Mobile’s signature color.

“Fans have come to expect a great experience at this ballpark and we have made a commitment to invest substantial Club revenues over the next 25-years to make sure that continues,” said Mariners president Kevin Mather. “This partnership with T-Mobile will help us meet that obligation so that fans will have a first-class experience at T-Mobile Park for decades to come.”

The company has its roots in VoiceStream, a company started in Bellevue in 1994 by Stanton, who was an influential McCaw Cellular executive. VoiceStream was sold to German company Deutsche Telekom in 2001 and renamed T-Mobile.

T-Mobile, which still is owned by Deutsche Telekom, could likely afford the steep naming fees — the company reported revenue of more than $40.6 billion last year, and profit of $4.5 billion. It’s known for having aggressive and expensive magenta-filled marketing campaigns, which often encourage people to “break up with” their current carriers and switch to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile now has more than 77 million customers, making it the third largest carrier in the U.S., behind Verizon and AT&T.

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