AKA: T-Mobile Park, SoDo, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - stadiums

Designers: Erection Company, Incorporated (firm); Hunt, Huber and Nichols, Incorporated (firm); Kiewit, Peter, Construction Company (firm); Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson, (NBBJ) (firm); Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire, (SWMB), Incorporated, Engineers (firm); William James Bain Jr. (architect); William James Bain Sr. (architect); Arthur J. Barkshire (structural engineer); Clifton J. Brady (architect); Michael Hallmark ; Perry Bertil Johanson (architect); Adam Jones (building contractor); Jon Magnusson (structural engineer); Daniel R. Meis (architect); Floyd Archibald Naramore (architect); John Bower Skilling (structural engineer); Ronald F. Turner (architect); William D. Ward (structural engineer)

Dates: constructed 1997-1999

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1250 1st Avenue South
SoDo, Seattle, WA 98134-1216

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Safeco Field (later renamed T-Mobile Park) has served as the home of the American League's Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball franchise since 1999. In many ways, Safeco Field was a Post Modern stadium, as its scale and styling recalled baseball stadia built during the early 1900s, such as Ebbetts Field, Comiskey Park, Tiger Stadium or Wrigley Field. Safeco's architects sought to blend the ballpark with its context of brick warehouses and industrial buildings in the surrounding Pioneer Square and SoDo neighborhoods. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (1992), designed by HOK Sports, proved to be the first and most influential "retro" baseball venue of the 1990s, and Safeco Field followed its example in many ways.

Building History

On 09/19/1995, a King County referendum to increase the sales tax .01% was voted upon, and failed 50.1% to 49.9%. Subsequent maneuvering in the Washington Legislature got around the vote by creating a Public Facilities District (PFD) that had the authority to levy tax money to get the stadium built. The stadium cost $517.6 million, the most expensive stadium in the U.S. up to that time. $380 million was paid by taxpayers (not counting interest) and $100 million by the Seattle Mariners, all for cost over-runs. (According to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article of 07/14/1999, cost over-runs occurred for several reasons: "PFD blames redesigns, errors and omissions due to tight work schedule. Biggest increase is $13 million for structural concrete changes and $13 million for construction management." [See "Safeco Field Timeline"Accessed 08/27/2010.])

The Safeco Insurance Company announced its purchase of the stadium's naming rights for $1.8 million per year for 20 years on 06/04/1998. The first game was played at Safeco Field, 07/15/1999, against the National League San Diego Padres, a loss for the home team, 3-2.

The Los Angeles-based Sports and Entertainment studio of NBBJ of Seattle designed the baseball stadium, designed to follow the styling and seating capacity of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. Like Camden Yards, it had a retro, brick-faced facade, that took styling cues from the warehouses of the surrounding Pioneer Square / SoDo neighborhood. Also similar to Camden Yards was the way in which the Downtown architecture of the city was featured through the outfield vista. NBBJ designed Safeco to accommodate 47,116 fans, while Camden Yards originally held 48,876. (Earlier multi-purpose stadia of the 1960s and 1970s tended to be much larger, seating about 60,000 fans for football.) Unlike the Baltimore park, Safeco Field included a retractable roof to protect against rain-outs. Seattle can have rainy springs, but summers are usually quite dry.

Leaders of the NBBJ Sports and Entertainment division at the time of Safeco's design were Daniel R. Meis, Ronald F. Turner and Michael Hallmark.

Skilling, Ward, Magnusson, Barkshire, Engineers, acted as Structural Engineers for Safeco Field. The Erection Company, Incorporated, of Redmond, WA, served as contractor for the roof.

A 25-year lease was signed by the Mariners with the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District in 1995. As 2020 approached, the Seattle Times encouraged that this lease to be resigned for another extended period. It reviewed the lease's terms in 2018: "In 1995, a deal was struck to keep Major League Baseball in our community. King County, recognizing the importance of keeping the Mariners here, created the PFD to acquire land, construct what would become Safeco Field, own the ballpark on behalf of the taxpayers and act as the landlord overseeing the lease with the Mariners. For their part, the Mariners paid nearly 30 percent of the construction costs and signed a 20-year lease that included their commitment to maintain the ballpark in first-class condition. And our region's baseball fans made a compact of their own to support the team for years to come. All parties have kept their promises. As the tenant, the Mariners have spent $350 million on maintenance, operations, capital repairs and improvements over the last 19 years, creating a clean, safe and enjoyable facility that is the envy of the many cities." As part of a new lease, the Mariners would continue to pay the costs of maintenance, coming to about $10 million yearly, The Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District and the Mariners also agreed to set aside $15 million per year for repair of large structural/infrastructure elements, such as the retractable roof, signage, electrical and plumbing systems and seating. By 2018, more than 45 million fans had attended a game at Safeco, making it, next to the Pike Place Market, one of Seattle's most popular tourist attractions. (See "Safeco Field lease is a smalrt investment for the region," Seattle Times, 07/11/2018, p. A9.) This lease was extended for another 25 years by the Mariners and the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District on 05/23/2018.

The mission of the Washington State Ballpark Public Facilities District was described on its website: "In 1995 the Washington State Legislature authorized King County to create the Ballpark PFD, and the King County Council formally established the PFD by ordinance that fall. The PFD’s mission is 'to maintain and enhance our iconic baseball park in order to promote the success of Major League Baseball in the State of Washington, enhance fan enjoyment, and contribute to an economically successful, safe, desirable, innovative, and walkable stadium neighborhood.' The PFD has interests beyond the ballpark’s walls, working to leverage its value to encourage positive outcomes in transportation, zoning and development, and livability issues in surrounding neighborhoods. The PFD and the Seattle Mariners work closely together toward our common goal of ensuring that T-Mobile Park remains among the top-ten ballparks in the country and is operated as a first-class facility for baseball and other events. We also work to ensure that the ballpark serves as a good neighbor in the community." (See Washington State Ballpark Public Facilities District.org, "Mission & History," accessed 01/16/2024.)

In 12/2018, the Seattle Mariners signed a 25-year naming contract for its stadium to the German telecom giant, T-Mobile. T-Mobile would pay a fee of $87.5 million for the naming rights, a cost of about $3.5 million per year. T-Mobile maintained a local headquarters in Bellevue, WA, that employed about 8,000 in 2018. The contract was later ratified by the building's owner, the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD). (See Ryan Divish, Seattle Times.com, "Goodbye, Safeco Field. The Mariners’ stadium is now called T-Mobile Park," published 12/19/2018, accessed 03/13/2023.)

The 2023 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was awarded to Seattle in 09/2021.

Building Notes

Designed for the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, the stadium holds 47,000 spectators.

Seattle's own multi-purpose stadium, the Kingdome, stood just to the north of Safeco Field at 201 South King Street.

Between 07/1995 and 10/1999, Mariners' ownership reported opeating losses of approximately $200 million. This $200 million loss needed to be paid off before the Mariners contractually could share revenue with the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District.By 2020, the Mariners paid the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) $4.6 million from the sale of BAMTech Media, an investment partially owned by MLB Advanced Media. (See Sach Spedden, Ballpark Digest.com, "Seattle Mariners Pay $4.6M to T-Mobile Park Owner," published 05/15/2019, accessed 03/13/2023.) Disney purchased BAMTech Media from MLB and the NHL between 2017 and 2022 for about $900 million, and this revenue was divided equally among the 30 MLB franchises in 2017-2018. The Mariners received $50 million in 2018, enabling them to pay some of the revenue back to the PFD by 2020.


In 2005, a fireproof zinc coating began to delaminate from steel beam, requiring repainting, which occurred a year later. The Mariners sued the contractors, Hunt Construction and Kiewit Construction, who, in turn, sued their sub-contractors, Herrick Steel and Long Painting. Eight Skyboxes were removed to make way for the All-Star Club, a luxury restaurant in Safeco Field for season ticket holders in 2007.

A large Safeco Field sign was installed in 02-03/2007 that was to be visible from Interstate 5 to the east.

During the 2010s, various changes were made to the electronic signage behind the outfield. The web site MLB.com stated: "The LED Out-of-Town scoreboard was installed in left field before the 2010 season, and in 2011, LED ribbon boards were installed on the Terrace Club fascia. The in-house production, broadcast and entertainment systems are also being upgraded to high definition. The video screen and production upgrades are part of an estimated $15 million maintenance and capital improvement plan for Safeco Field to be completed before the 2013 season. The Mariners, who are responsible for maintenance, capital improvements and operations of Safeco Field, have invested over $80 million in the ballpark since 1999. The new video screen replaces the scoreboard that was built in 1999, the inaugural season of Safeco Field. Measuring 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide and covering 11,425 square feet, the new video screen fills the same location and space as the old scoreboard, but because the entire thing is a high definition screen, the video space itself is nearly 10 times the size of the current video screen. The viewing area will be equal to about 2,182 42-inch flat screen TVs." (See MLB.com, "New Safeco Field HD Scoreboard will be the largest in MLB," accessed 07/16/2018.)

In 2020, the Mariners announced that they would spend about $280 milion over ten years to maintain and upgrade T-Mobile Park. In 2020-2021, they allocated about $29.8 million, to cover the costs of retractable roof equipment repair, and for painting and plumbing renovations. In addition, the park's original public address sound system was to be upgraded and ADA alterations made to accommodate all fans. Other fan improvements were noted by the website, Ballpark Digest.com in 09/2021: "Expand the Left Field Gate to add 15 additional points of entry for fans and replace the existing Left Field ticket office with a new concession area that will connect to The T-Mobile ‘Pen (shown below); Create a new bar and fan/group entertainment space at Lookout Landing above the left field foul pole on the View Level; Create an elevated Rooftop Boardwalk above the Home Plate Gate rotunda with enhanced viewing areas, concessions, monitors and kids play activities; Introduce a new seating option in the First Base Terrace Club with Terrace Club Loge Boxes and Terrace Club Tables to provide an alternative to single seats in favor of small group or social spaces for fans." (See Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest.com, "$50M in T-Mobile Park improvements planned before ASG," published 09/17/2021, accessed 03/13/2023.)

PCAD id: 4552