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Thiel: 'Not Right Time' For Mariners To Ask For Public Funds For Safeco Fixes

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Safeco Field is shown with its retractable roof extended.

The Mariners are at the end of a 20-year lease at Safeco Field. They’re asking for $180 million in public funding to help pay for upgrades and repairs at the stadium as part of a new, tentative lease agreement between the team and the King County Executive.

We hear what KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel thinks about that in his chat this week with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

  'Different Time'

The Metropolitan King County Council must approve the lease agreement. There was a public hearing this week and there will be another one later this month.

At issue is whether a portion of the revenue from King County's hotel/motel tax should be used for fixes at Safeco Field or for affordable housing and programs to help people who are homeless.

Thiel pointed out that the original Safeco Field lease was "created at a time that was completely different from what we have here now."

"The Mariners were in genuine crisis. They were threatening to move because they were losing money."

"Also, in 1996, it was two years after the Kingdome roof failed and they had a proposal for this stadium that they said would assure the financial viability of the franchiese forever and ever."

'Things Have Changed'

"But things have changed now," Thiel continued.

"Clearly city and county governments here are faced with an epic crisis where the robust economy has created a huge housing crisis and it's really vexing all governments to figure out a solution."

"My view is that the public sector has got a real crisis to deal with. And the Mariners - I don't think they're being bullies, I don't think they're being unreasonable - but this is just not the time and this is just not the right ask."

"I think the Mariners have to be creative and come up with a private sector solution."

(Assistant producer this week: Del Kendrick)

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes or Google Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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