The Mariners will enter 2015, surely, as contenders. With that, it stands to reason 2015 will be the most anticipated baseball season Seattle's seen in quite some time—likely more than a decade. So it should be no surprise that we're seeing a lot of people, still not yet halfway through the off-season, saying "god, I just can't wait to get down to Arizona."
Well, when they get down there, they're going to see a lot of changes to Peoria Sports Complex. This comes as part of Phase II of renovations to that have been planned for a few years now. Last year's Phase I project included a $15.4 million renovation of the Mariners' complex (offices, weight room, etc.). The second phase of the project focuses more on the stadium, and stands to more greatly impact the fans. Details:
Peoria Sports Complex Sports Facilities Manager Chris Calcaterra says in addition to the improvements for the players, fans will also benefit from the Phase 2 changes, which include stadium seat renovations, a new team store, a renovated front entrance and an expanded box office with 12 ticket windows instead of four. The widened stadium main gate will ease foot traffic flow and take customers past the new team shop to their seats.
The two-story team store – combined for both teams –will consist of 2,400 square feet and also feature a connecting party deck (when completed in 2015) that connects with the seating area and offers a lot of fan amenities. Beginning in 2016, when Phase 3 is completed, fans with children can visit a kids area adjacent to the team shop and south of the left field lawn seating area.
Mr. Calcaterra says the expansions are all about fan comfort and reaching out to families. "We’re going after a new (younger) generation of fans," he says "as well as making the facility more friendly for families with children."
That article, if you'll notice, is from back in October. This has slipped under the radar a bit, but it caught my attention when photos of the work started appearing on Twitter. Here's how it's going:
Honestly, I'm excited to see how it looks. It only reminds me that I've been procrastinating on buying the flights. Last year was my first trip to spring training, and I cannot recommend it enough for those who haven't been and are wavering on making the trip this year.
Now, more seriously—this, as we noted on the initial work last year, is a big example of all the off-field projects the Mariners have been working on, most coming in the off-season. Going pack to that piece, here's the full list, which hasn't changed because this, again, is just the second phase of the planned spring training complex renovations.
- Mariners announce new LED out-of-town scoreboard in February of 2010.
- The following offseason, in 2011, the Mariners completely overhauled the bullpen area, creating The 'Pen— with a better view and new food and beverage attractions.
- Also during the 2011 offseason, the Mariners unveil new LED screens around the Terrace Club level.
- The Mariners didn't have any major projects during the 2012-2013 offseason. There were solar panelsand charging stations, and opposing the basketball arena.
- Before the 2012 season ended, the Mariners announced they'd be moving in the fences.
- In November of 2012, they announced they would building a training academy in the Dominican Republic.
- Then you also have the $10 million video board in 2012.
- To round out the 2012-2013 offseason, the Mariners also opened Edgar's Cantina, which accompanied the fence change.
- And then, again, you have the renovation of the spring training complex.
That's a lot of work. And a lot of money.
When I wrote that original piece back in October of last year, asking if these off-field projects were where all the cable money was going, I made it sound a lot more nefarious than I likely should have. Of course, that's easier to say now that the organization has committed a combined $388 million to Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz. That's more than the Sonics sold for.
Now, when you see these off-field projects, it should only be encouraging. The Mariners are a healthy and growing franchise, one with the financial wherewithal to do a lot of things they couldn't do previously.
As manager Lloyd McClendon said at his introductory press conference, and then the other day in the one for Nelson Cruz, this may well be "a golden age for the Seattle Mariners." We'll have to see how that plays out on the field, but—at least compared to many past years—it's a damn good time to be an M's fan.