Safeco Field (sometimes referred to as just The Safe) is a retractable roof baseball park located in Seattle, Washington. However, unlike other retractable roof stadiums, Safeco Field has what is called a "retractable umbrella". This is because when the roof is closed, the stadium is still open on the sides to the outside weather, so the Mariners can play outdoor baseball even in the rain. There is no need for heating or air-conditioning because it is just like an outdoor stadium. Owned and operated by the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, it is the home stadium of the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB) and has a seating capacity of 47,943 for baseball. It is located in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood, near the western terminus of Interstate 90. The first game was played on July 15, 1999.
During the 1990s, the suitability of the Mariners' original stadium—the Kingdome—as a MLB facility came under doubt, and the team's ownership group threatened to relocate the team. In September 1995, King County voters defeated a ballot measure to secure public funding for a new baseball stadium. Shortly thereafter, the Mariners' first appearance in the MLB postseason and their victory in the 1995 American League Division Series (ALDS) renewed a public desire to keep the team in town. As a result, the Washington State Legislature approved an alternate means of funding for the stadium with public money. The site for the stadium, just south of the Kingdome, was selected in September 1996 and construction began in March 1997.
Aside from the Mariners, Safeco Field is also used for amateur baseball events including the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association high school state championships and one Washington Huskies game per season. Major non-baseball events that have been held at Safeco Field include the 2001 Seattle Bowl (the game attracted 30,144), as well as WrestleMania XIX in 2003 which attracted the stadium's record attendance of 54,097.
Naming rights to the stadium are owned by Seattle-based Safeco Insurance. Safeco reportedly paid $40 million to have its name on the stadium for 20 years. The naming rights will expire after the 2018 season, when it was announced on June 13, 2017, that Safeco would not renew the naming rights. The bonds issued to finance Safeco Field were retired on October 1, 2011, five years earlier than anticipated.
Safeco Field is located in the SoDo district of downtown Seattle, bounded by Dave Niehaus Way South (a block of 1st Avenue S.) to the west, and Edgar Martínez Drive S. (formerly S. Atlantic Street) to the south, S. Royal Brougham Way to the north (S. Connecticut St. until 1979), and BNSF railroad tracks to the west. The stadium is located near the western terminus of Interstate 90.
Parking is available at the stadium's parking garage located across Edgar Martínez Drive, the CenturyLink Field garage to the North, as well as other privately operated lots in the area. Public transportation is available along the arterial streets surrounding the stadium. Additionally, the stadium is convenient to Sounder commuter rail service at nearby King Street Station. Safeco Field is also served by Sound Transit's Central Link light rail line and local Metro bus routes via the nearby Stadium Station.
On March 30, 1994, King County executive Gary Locke appointed a task force to assess the need for a new baseball stadium to replace the rapidly deteriorating Kingdome. Many feared that the Mariners would leave Seattle if a new stadium was not built. In January 1995, the 28-member task force recommended to the King County Council that the public should be involved in the financing of the stadium. The task force concluded that a sales tax increase of .01% would be sufficient to fund the stadium. King County held a special election in September 1995, asking the public for this sales tax increase. The measure was narrowly defeated.
On October 14, 1995, a special session of the state legislature authorized a different funding package for a new stadium that included a food and beverage tax in King County restaurants and bars, car rental surcharge in King County, a ballpark admissions tax, a credit against the state sales tax, and sale of a special stadium license plate. Nine days later, the King County Council approved the funding package and established the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District to own the ballpark and oversee design and construction. Taxpayer suits opposing the legislative actions and the taxes failed in the courts.
On September 9, 1996, the site was selected for the new stadium, just south of the Kingdome. In late fall, several members of the King County Council wrote a letter to the Seattle Mariners, stating that officials consider postponing construction and the opening of the (then projected) $384.5-million stadium project. In response, Mariners ownership held a news conference stating that they would either sell the team, or move the team from Seattle. After a public outcry, the King County Council voted to reaffirm their cooperation with the Mariners in building a new stadium. Mariners ownership contributed $145 million to cover cost overruns.
Construction officially began on March 8, 1997 with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring Mariners star Ken Griffey, Jr. The construction, overseen by Chief Financial Officer Kevin Mather, continued until July 1999. The first game in the new stadium was played on July 15, 1999 against the San Diego Padres. The Padres won, 3–2.
Before the stadium was initially christened, the naming rights to the stadium were sold for advertising. Seattle-based Safeco insurance company paid $40 million for the naming rights for the ballpark's first 20 years. However, the acquisition of the Safeco company by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group has opened the distant possibility that the name could be changed before the contract expires in 2019. However, experts speculate this will only happen if Liberty Mutual retires the Safeco name during that time.
When Ken Griffey, Jr., returned to Safeco in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds, he came to a hero's welcome, receiving gifts from the Mariners organization, and fellow former players Jay Buhner and Edgar Martínez. They unveiled a new poster that declared Safeco Field "The House That Griffey Built."
The Mariners moved the fences at Safeco Field closer to home plate as of the 2013 season "to create an environment that is fair for both hitters and pitchers," according to General Manager Jack Zduriencik. The centerfield scoreboard and ad panels were replaced with an 11,435 square foot board in the same renovation, becoming the largest among all stadium scoreboards in the major leagues. The remodeled field debuted on April 8, 2013 between the Mariners and Houston Astros. Safeco had been considered one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the majors since it opened, though the 2013 remodelling involved shrinking the field.
Like most ballparks built from the 1990s onward, Safeco Field is a 'retro-modern' style ballpark that incorporates many of the features of ballparks built in the 1950s and earlier with modern amenities. In contrast with the Kingdome and the other multi-purpose stadiums built primarily during the 1960s and 1970s, Safeco Field features a brick façade, an asymmetrical field dimension, a natural grass field, spectator sightlines more suited for baseball, and is surrounded by city streets, a railroad line, and buildings. On a modern note, the ballpark features a retractable roof, luxury suites, extensive food and beverage selection beyond traditional ballpark fare, and modern clubhouse amenities for players, as well as technology that allows spectators to monitor special game-time features with Nintendo DS receivers, and is fully ADA-accessible.
The stadium has four main gates open to all ticket holders during Mariners games, located at the southwest, northwest, northeast, and southeast corners. These are identified as Home Plate, Left Field, Center Field, and Right Field, respectively. Entry to all ticket holders is also available through the Mariners Team Store off 1st Avenue and at "The 'Pen" entry behind the bull pens in left field. Special entrances for media and holders of certain ticket levels are located on the southwest and south sides of the stadium.
There are five main levels to the stadium: Field (or Street), Main Concourse (100 level – 20,835 seats), Club Level (200 level – 4,616 seats), Suite Level (1,554 seats), and Upper Concourse (300 level – 16,023 seats). Two bleacher sections are located above left field and below the center field scoreboard, with 3,721 seats. The Broadcast Center (press box) is located on the Club Level and sub-level between it and the Main Level. As the field is approximately at street level, entry into any of the main gates requires visitors to ascend a flight of stairs, escalator, or elevator to access the main concourse, with the exception of the Right Field Entry, which opens onto the main concourse. Stairs, escalators, elevators, and ramps located around the ballpark provide access to all levels.
Safeco Field has an extensive food and beverage selection above and beyond the traditional ballpark fare of hot dogs, pizza, soda, and beer. Concession stands selling traditional ballpark fare are plentiful on the main and upper concourses. Food courts behind home plate on the main concourse, as well as in "The 'Pen" (known as the Bullpen Market prior to a major 2011 remodel) located on the street level inside the Center Field gate, sell items such as sushi, burritos, teriyaki, stir-fries, pad thai, garlic fries, crepes, health food, seafood, and barbecue. An extensive selection of beer can also be found in those locations, as well as a location on the upper concourse. You may order your food with a Nintendo DS app called Nintendo Fan Network.
Several restaurants and food services are available exclusively for fans purchasing certain ticket levels:
Safeco Field has a unique retractable roof that only acts as an "umbrella" for the stands and field rather than forming a complete climate-controlled enclosure, as is the case with all other retractable roofs in Major League Baseball. Seattle's relatively mild climate means the park rarely needs to be heated or cooled, but frequent precipitation necessitated a roof. The roof is sometimes closed, however, in dry weather when the temperature is particularly low. On cold nights, closing the roof helps prevent radiation heat loss. The only other covered baseball stadium in the world with permanent openings is the fixed-roof Seibu Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan, home of the Saitama Seibu Lions.
In the open position, the roof rests over the BNSF Railway tracks that bound the stadium to the east, with part of it hanging over the stands in right field. This has the effect of echoing the whistles from passing trains into the stadium. Train whistles were a frequent fixture of the Safeco Field experience initially, but abated significantly when an overpass was built for Royal Brougham Way, the street that bounds the stadium to the north which previously crossed the tracks.
The roof consists of three major sections that extend into the closed position in a telescoping manner, with the two outer sections resting under the larger center section. Each section rests on a set of parallel tracks located on the north and south sides of the stadium, with the outer sections moving along the inner set of tracks, and the center section moving along the outer set. Each section is structurally independent; i.e., no section depends on another for structural stability. "Welcome to Safeco Field, Seattle" is painted on top of the center section, visible from aircraft whether the roof is open or closed. A lighted "Safeco Field" sign was added to the east side of the roof in 2007, which aids in identification of the stadium from the freeways to the east.
Each section is independently powered by electric motors that move the respective sections along the tracks. It is controlled from a central control room located under the center field scoreboard. Depending on wind and weather conditions, the roof takes approximately 10 minutes to move from the fully open to the fully closed position, and vice versa. The roof movement is nearly silent, blending in with the ambient noise typically present during a game. During normal operation, the movement of each section is governed by computers, with all three sections moving at the same time. During an emergency or maintenance operation, each section can be independently moved. A working spare motor and wheel assembly for the roof can be found inside the center field gate. In its present state, it serves to educate visitors on how the roof operates, but if needed, it can be used to replace a similar part on the roof should one become damaged or defective.
On April 7, 2013, Total Pro Sports voted Safeco Field the 8th Best Place to Catch a Game in 2013, mainly owing the award to the design of Safeco's retractable roof.
Batted ball striking the roof or roof trusses:
Movement of the roof:
Safeco Field features a manual scoreboard, a light emitting diode (LED) video display, the second largest HD video display scoreboard in MLB, a color LED out-of-town scoreboard, and LED ribbon boards along the First, Third, and Hit It Here Cafe Facade.
Additionally, television screens showing the local telecast of the game hang from the bottom of the Terrace Club level, for spectators seated in the last several rows of the main concourse seating areas, as well as those standing on the main concourse. Though fans in these areas have a full view of the field, their view of the scoreboards is obstructed by the overhang of the Terrace Club level. These screens display the content shown on the video board between innings or when the telecast is on a commercial break.
Safeco Field and its adjoining parking garage feature extensive public art displays, including:
The Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest pays homage to now-defunct professional baseball teams that played in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia before the establishment of the Mariners in 1977. Additionally, it features hands-on displays explaining the composition of baseballs and bats, and the different types of gloves, as well as a replica outfield fence with props to allow fans to photograph themselves pretending to be outfielders.
Co-located with the Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners Hall of Fame features bronze plaques of the nine inducted members: Alvin Davis (1997), Broadcaster Dave Niehaus (2000), Jay Buhner (2004), Edgar Martínez (2007), Randy Johnson (2012), Dan Wilson (2012), Ken Griffey, Jr. (2013), Lou Pinella (2014) and Jamie Moyer (2015). Those plaques describe their contributions to the franchise, as well as murals and television screens showing highlights of their careers with the Mariners.
A bronze statue of late Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus was unveiled Friday September 16, 2011 at Safeco Field. The statue captures the Hall of Fame broadcaster who broadcast 5,284 Mariners games over 34 seasons (1977–2010) at a desk, behind a microphone, wearing headphones with his Mariners scorebook in front of him. His scorebook is opened to the box score for Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series, when Edgar Martínez hit "The Double". There is an empty seat next to the statue, so fans can sit next to Dave and pose for photos. Dave's longtime broadcast partner Rick Rizzs presided over a private ceremony to unveil the statue.
The flagship Mariners Team Store is located on the west side of the stadium. The first level of the store, on the street level, sells a comprehensive assortment of Mariners merchandise, while the upper level, on the main concourse, displays game-used items for sale, as well as a custom jersey embroidery station. Other stores include the Kids' Clubhouse at the northeast corner on the main concourse, a walk-in store at the southwest corner on the upper concourse, a store near the bridge from the parking garage on the "club" (200) level, and kiosks throughout the ballpark.
Children's Hospital Playfield is a playground for children located at the northeast corner of the stadium on the main concourse. Also located in this area is "Moose's Munchies", a concession stand selling ballpark fare in child-sized portions.
The Moose Den, located on the main concourse near the Children's Hospital Playfield, is a meet-and-greet area for the Mariner Moose, the team's mascot.
Free wi-fi was added prior to the 2015 season.
Safeco Field also gives walking tours of the stadium for $12 as of April 2017. Departing from the main Team Store, the tour includes information about the stadium not generally provided at games, as well as entry into areas not open to the general public during games, including the visitors' clubhouse, playing field and dugouts, Dave Niehaus Broadcast Center (press box), and a luxury suite.
On May 4, 2007, an NCAA Pacific-10 Conference baseball attendance record was set at Safeco Field (later broken), when the Washington Huskies hosted defending conference champion Oregon State in front of 10,421 spectators. Washington won the game 6–2.
Safeco Field has hosted several soccer matches prior to the opening of CenturyLink Field, which was designed for soccer. To prepare for soccer matches, the field has to be sodded to cover and replace the dirt infield.
Safeco Field hosted four matches during the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup in November, including two matches featuring the United States women's national soccer team, as part of qualification for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The first U.S. match, against Panama, had an attendance of 21,522; the second match, against Costa Rica, was attended by 10,079 fans.
|Date||Winning Team||Result||Losing Team||Tournament||Spectators|
|March 2, 2002||United States||4–0||Honduras||International Friendly||38,534|
|November 2, 2002||Mexico||2–0||Trinidad and Tobago||2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup First Round||—|
|November 2, 2002||United States||9–0||Panama||2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup First Round||21,522|
|November 6, 2002||Canada||2–0||Mexico||2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup Semifinal||—|
|November 6, 2002||United States||7–0||Costa Rica||2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup Semifinal||10,079|
On March 30, 2003, Safeco was host to WrestleMania XIX, which set an all-time record attendance for Safeco Field of 54,097.
|Date||Artist||Opening act(s)||Tour / Concert name||Attendance||Revenue||Notes|
|September 16, 2008||The Beach Boys||—||—||—||—||The stadium's first concert, although it was not open to the public.|
|July 19, 2013||Paul McCartney||—||"Out There" concert||45,229 / 45,229||$4,525,200||The stadium's first public concert, it also featured former Nirvana members on a performance of the song "Cut Me Some Slack".|
|July 30, 2014||Beyoncé & Jay Z||—||On the Run Tour||40,615 / 40,615||$4,339,642|
|Events and tenants|
|Home of the
1999 – present
|Host of the All-Star Game