PHOTO: Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln (second from left) chats with coaches and assistants during batting practice this morning.
Most of the Seattle sports world is abuzz today with the announcement of a broad plan to build a $500 million arena south of downtown that would house a new NBA team and possibly an NHL franchise as well. It’s all still in the preliminary stages, but city and county officials today revealed that the plan would involve roughly $300 million in private funds and an additional $200 million in city and county financing — but no new taxes.
The Mariners just put out a statement saying they are “excited” by the possibility of having new teams in the city.
“From our perspective, it is all about the fans and the community,” the release states. “We aren’t familliar with the details, but are ready to participate in the process to make this a ‘win’ for the fans and to realize the many potential benefits for the region.”
It adds that the M’s are prepared to “participate in the public process” involved in making the whole thing happen. That process will clearly involve the logistics of getting an arena built, then luring franchises to the city.
The Mariners say they can’t make any further comment until more specific aspects of any proposal to bring teams here are flushed out.
There are rumors the team is concerned about the parking arrangement for the new arena, which would be built next to the garage currently used by the ballclub. Traffic could also be an issue on nights any of the teams played at the same time as the Mariners.
And then, in the much bigger scheme of things, the new clubs would add competition locally for the limited sports dollars in Seattle’s marketplace. News of the arena plans and possible arrival of two new teams comes as the Mariners face a huge decision on what to do with their regional sports network (RSN) TV deal.
The team began a 10-year, $450-million contract with ROOT Sports last season that has already been rendered second-rate by some of the deals struck over the past 18 months. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels both recently signed agreements worth a reported $3 billion over 20 years and a third soon-to-be AL West team, the Houston Astros, has secured part ownership in its own lucrative RSN arrangement.
An opt-out clause in Seattle’s contract would give the team the ability to alter its deal by 2015 and likely much sooner than that.
What remains to be seen is whether the Mariners would sell their rights, or try to acquire ownership of an RSN, as a single pro team programing entity. Or, whether they’d find a way to partner with any new NBA and NHL teams to form a combined sports television content package.