Seattle's new ballpark for the Mariners was built to resemble the great ballparks of yesteryear. It is open-air and has real grass. It also features a retractable roof that covers the ballpark, but does not enclose it. The roof keeps fans, 47% of whom come from outside the immediate Puget Sound area, protected from the wind and rain. 46,621 fans are able to enjoy a ballgame from seats that are closer to the field and offer great sightlines. A team store, picnic area, kids play area, on-site restaurant and a baseball museum are just a few of the fan amenities that make the ballpark a unique experience. There is also more variety in concessions and many more bathrooms! A two-level modern press box is located behind home plate. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held March 8, 1997 and the ballpark opened on July 15, 1999.
The Washington State Major League Baseball Public Facilities District (PFD) is the public body responsible for actual construction of the ballpark. The PFD worked with the Mariners on design and construction and has oversight of the ballpark now that it is built. On September 9, 1996 the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) selected a site south of the Kingdome for Seattle's new ballpark. In December, 1996 the Seattle Mariners Baseball Club signed a 20-year lease keeping them in Seattle through at least the year 2019.
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 years.
Safeco Field hosted the 2001 All-Star game.
Tenants: Seattle Mariners (AL)
Opened: July 15, 1999 (against the San Diego Padres)
Style: Retractable roof
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 companion seats).
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. (Redmond).
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.