When the old Kingdome became such a liability that the owners of the Seattle Mariners threatened to leave the city, a plan for a new stadium was drafted, but then quickly denied by voters who didn’t wish to raise taxes in order to pay for a new MLB facility. However, after the Mariners had a solid 1995, including their first division title, a new plan was drafted to raise funds, focusing more on taxing car rentals, restaurants and bars. This time, the measure passed, which lead to ground breaking for Safeco Field on March 8th, 1997. Nearly two and a half years later, on July 15th, 1999, this venue opened, welcoming the San Diego Padres, who beat the Mariners by a score of 3-2.
This facility has an unusual retractable roof, in the sense that it’s designed to act like an umbrella, shielding against the rain without closing the roof entirely, allowing for outside air to circulate even when it precipitates. Incredibly, rules exist to govern balls that hit the roof, with the ball still considered in flight if it makes contact. As a result, if a fielder catches the ball after it hits the roof, it’s considered an out. This has only happened once, in 2011, when Ryan Raburn struck the roof with a foul pop-up.
Seattle Mariners Stadium
Safeco Field doesn’t produce a lot of offensive momentum, and ranks near the bottom of most metrics, according to the 2015 MLB Park Factor Statistics. Appropriately nicknamed ‘The Safe”, this venue yields the least amount of hits and ranks close to the bottom in terms of the rate of run production, when compared to other MLB stadiums. This ballpark also ranks in the bottom third for the rate of extra base hits produced.
Over the past two years, the Mariners have a mediocre record at home, finishing 41-40 for the 2014 season, compared to an away record of 46-35, which cost them a spot in the post season. During the 2015 season, the team performed better on the road than at home, once against missing the playoffs.
This facility features a wide variety of baseball themed art that surrounds the stadium and the adjacent parking lot, including a baseball glove that’s nine feet tall, stainless steel ball players and “The Double”, which commemorates Edgar Martinez slugging a series-winning RBI that beat the Yankees and helped solidify the status of Ken Griffey Jr. as a Seattle legend.
Date Opened: July 15, 1999
Construction Cost: $517.6 million
Architect: 360 Architecture; NBBJ
Ballpark Type: Retro Modern
Capacity Attendance: 47,574
Playing Surface: Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass Mix
Previous Seattle Mariners Stadium
Other Major Events
The largest attendance at Safeco Field was for WrestleMania XIX, which took place on March 30th, 2003. A total of 54,097 fans showed up to cheer their favorite wrestlers, including The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker.
Oregon State and the Washington Huskies played at Safeco on May 4th, 2007, resulting in a 6-2 upset win by Washington over the defending champs of the NCAA Pac-10 Conference. At the time, this game set an attendance record for college ball at this venue.