xxx,xxx sq. ft.
Area of foul territory:
|Lower Box, Terrace Club
|Terrace Club OF
|Lower OF Reserved
|Lower OF Reserved
Seattle, WA 98104
Tickets: (206) 622-HITS
Who Plays Here: Seattle
First opened: July 15, 1999 (against the San Diego Padres)
Stadium Style: Retractable roof
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 46,621 (baseball only); main bowl: 24,399; club level:
4,254; suite level: 936; upper bowl: 16,022; disabled seats: 1,010 (505
Architect: NBBJ (Seattle).
Construction: Stadium: Hunt-Kiewit (a joint venture between Huber,
Hunt and Nichols, Inc. and (Peter) Kiewit Construction Company), Skilling
Ward Magnusson Barkshire (Seattle); Roof: The Erection Company Inc.
Owner: Washington-King County stadium authority.
Cost: $517.6 million (as of July 1999).
Public financing: $340 million from a one-half-cent prepared food tax
in King County and rental-car tax.
Private financing: $75 million from Mariners owners. Cost overruns of
over $100 million are still being settled.
Seattle's new ballpark for the
Mariners was built to resemble the great ballparks of yesteryear. It is
open-air and has real grass, and features a retractable roof that covers
the ballpark, but does not enclose it.
The Mariners were losing
money while playing in the Kingdome, a multi-purpose facility owned and
operated by King County. They believed that their long term economic
viability in Seattle could only come with a new ballpark - other ball clubs
were reaching the same conclusion. The Ballpark at Arlington; Oriole
Park at Camden Yards, in Baltimore; Coors Field in Denver; and Jacobs Field
in Cleveland are all recent examples of this trend toward traditional
baseball parks with modern comforts - and more economically viable seating.
A 1995 ballot measure which
would have levied a sales tax of one-tenth of one cent in King County failed
by the slimmest of margins - 50.1% to 49.9% - and the state government had
to bail the stadium out. Eventually, the state approved a variety of
taxes to finance construction:
The State of Washington
authorized a 0.017% statewide sales tax, which is now offset by a tax
collected by King County (so no net tax increase on the general public was
imposed). They also contributed proceeds from the
sale of baseball stadium commemorative license plates and from the sale of
sports-theme lottery scratch games ($3 million is guaranteed from this
King County imposed a special stadium
sales tax of .5% on restaurants, bars and taverns, and a stadium sales tax
of 2% on rental cars. They also levy an admissions tax - they have the
authority to levy two admissions taxes on the new stadium of up to 5% each.
Seattle Mariners contributed $75 million. Cost overruns exceeding $100
million have yet to be settled.
On March 8, 1997, ground was
broken, and on April 2, 1997, bonds were sold to finance the
construction. The opening was delayed beyond the team's 1999 Opening
Day, and the first game was played on July 15, 1999, after the All-Star
break. On June 4, 1998 the Mariners announced that the name of their
new ballpark will be Safeco Field. For the right to have their name on the
stadium, Safeco, a diversified financial services company whose roots in
Seattle date back to 1923, will pay $1.8 million per year for the next 20
The roof: Modeled on the SkyDome in
Toronto. SAFECO Field is equipped with a state-of-the art, rubberized sheet
metal retractable roof. The roof has three panels that nest on top of one
another when the roof is open. The roof's length of span when closed is 665
feet and covers 8.9 acres. At its highest point when closed, the roof is 215
feet above the field. It takes 10-20 minutes to open or close the roof,
depending on wind and other factors.
Like in other retractable roof
stadiums, the decision to open or close it is the team's, at the start of a
game. After the game starts, Major League Baseball rules are very
specific. If the roof is open and climatic conditions warrant it, the
roof can be extended in the middle of an inning. Once the roof is
closed during a game, it will not be re-opened. If a game begins with the
roof closed, it may be opened only between innings and the visiting team may
challenge the decision to open it. If the visitors opt to challenge,
the decision becomes the discretion of the Umpire Crew Chief.
The open air stadium played
like a pitcher's park in 1999, and again in 2000. Although a year and
a half is often not enough to establish conclusively the ballpark effect,
the physics suggests that nothing will change. The stadium is actually
under sea level, by 2 feet, and it allows the cold, damp Pacific air, and
the ball does not carry well. The Kingdome may have been a hitter's
park, but Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey, Jr., were smart to git while the
gittin' was good.
The left field power
alley is one of the longest in the majors; only Yankee Stadium and Comerica
Park are longer,
and the ball doesn't carry as well here as it does in those cities. The ball seems to carry better to right than it does to left.
The ball seems to carry better
with the roof closed than with it open.
Because of the spacious left-center and
right-center alleys, the center fielder must have excellent range. The
natural grass plays fair and true, keeping errors down and limiting the need
for fleet infielders.
2001 STATS, Inc.
benefits: Pitchers, almost without exception but especially those who
induce flyballs. The ballpark also seems to favor left-handed hitters
who pull the ball, and because the park dimensions are about 5 feet shorter
to right, the reduction in power isn't quite as extreme.
gets hurt: Hitters with alley power, because they have a long way to go
with difficult air. Almost all
key Mariner hitters have been hit hard - John Olerud, Mike Cameron, and Alex
Rodriguez were hit the hardest, losing power and average. In the
second half of 1999, after the switch to the new ballpark, Ken Griffey, Jr.,
hit .255 with 19 HR, down from .304 with 29 HR in the first half. Alex
Rodriguez saw his batting average drop from .316 to .261, and saw his
slugging percentage drop 93 points, from the first half of 1999 second half.
Post All-Star break.
2001 STATS, Inc.
Seattle, Washington: Left
field (N), Royal Brougham Way; third base (W), First Avenue South; first
base (S), South Atlantic Street; right field (E), Third Avenue South.
field foul pole: 331 ft.
field power alley: 390 ft.
field: 405 ft.
field power alley: 386 ft.
field foul pole: 326 ft.
- Lowest run, triples, LHB and RHB
factor in AL in 2000