King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Wednesday that the Seattle Public Facilities District had reached agreement with the Seattle Mariners on a new 25 year lease for Safeco Field. The original lease, signed in 1996, was set to expire on December 31, 2018. Thanks to the new agreement, expected to be ratified later today by the King County Council, there will be no need to agree on terms for exercising the three five-year renewal periods contemplated in the original lease. The Mariners will continue to pay lodging taxes to the city under the terms of the new deal, which will keep the Mariners under contract in what is—in my view—one of the best baseball facilities in existence through the end of 2043.
It’s a testament to the work done in the 1990s by the Mariners, the state legislature, King County, and the City of Seattle that there was absolutely no inkling of the Mariners demanding a new stadium or leaving town when this lease expired, even a mere 8 months before expiration. Safeco has provided an outstanding home and even as other teams around baseball seek to replace stadiums barely older than Safeco, the Mariners have a stable, long-term home that provides an outstanding fan experience while also having proved to be among the best stadium financial deals for local government in America. Now we wait to see what a new naming deal will bring. I’m still rooting for Microsoft Surface at A-Rod Park.