The Mariners don’t want Chris Hansen to build a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art arena — an arena that is ultimately destined to house both an NBA and an NHL team — in their backyard. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Hansen has already purchased land immediately south of Safeco Field, in the heart of Seattle’s SODO district. Hansen also has the blessing of the City of Seattle and King County in building his arena, as well as public backing from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine. So to say the odds are stacked against the Mariners wouldn’t be inaccurate.
Why the Mariners have chosen to issue a letter to the aforementioned parties expressing concern over the proposed site of the arena makes sense from a business perspective, but is absolutely idiotic from a marketing and positioning (i.e. Public Relations) standpoint. Why? Good question. I’ll do my best to answer that.
But first, let me just state the obvious. The Mariners are f**king dickheads. They’ve been dickheads for quite some time. It’s evident in the way they’ve treated their fan base for so many years. For every positive, there are two negatives. “Hey, guess what, guys?! Instead of landing that free agent that would put us over the top, we reinvested in our Nintendo gaming stations and promotional bobbleheads. Enjoy the crap out of that shit!” F**king f**ks. We’re not f**king short-bus riders, you douchebags. Stop treating us like we lack the mental capacity to understand what you’re doing. It’s cheaper to pour a couple thousand dollars into a tiny wooden statue built in Ichiro’s likeness than it is to go out and sign Prince F**kin’ Fielder, we f**kin’ get it. Don’t f**kin’ lie to us to make up for it. F**k.
That said, the M’s organization is full of good businessmen. The thing about good businessmen is that they’re savvy. The Mariners are savvy enough to have put a fence around the SODO area and absolutely owned that shit since moving to Safeco Field in 1999. You know why there aren’t too many bars in SODO? Because of the Mariners. You know why restaurants aren’t zoned in SODO? The Mariners. You know why SODO is still a boring-as-shit neighborhood? The motherf**king Mariners. And do you know why the Mariners have made SODO that way? Because they want fans to focus solely on the concessions inside their own venue. They don’t want people going over to Pyramid, for example, and spending money. No, they want fans to drop $9 on a domestic light beer in The ‘Pen. It’s a business move. A short-sighted business move, but a business move nonetheless.
You can see why, from a business perspective, the Mariners’ thinking isn’t too stupid. If fans have nowhere else to go, they’ll end up inside the gates of Safeco two hours before first pitch pounding costly Bud Lights. Makes sense, right? Well, it WOULD make sense if the team were winning and had an absolute foothold in the area, but that isn’t happening. Which is why I say this line of thinking is so ridiculously short-sighted.
Take a look at a city like Boston, for example. The area around Fenway Park is thriving with establishments that have no affiliation with the Red Sox organization. These establishments essentially profit off the Red Sox, however, because of all the fans who frequent the area for games. Aside from having a winning product on the field, why do fans come to games and in turn frequent the area? Because of the gameday experience. The gameday experience in Boston is second-to-none, which is why people go. Even if fans can’t get a ticket into Fenway, they’ll head to Yawkey Way to absorb the ambiance and enjoy life. Worst case scenario, they pony up at a bar one Kevin Youkilis home run away from the Green Monster. Not a bad consolation prize, right?
The Mariners don’t see it that way, though. They see competing establishments as a gigantic threat to their revenue. Have they even considered the gameday experience outside their gates? Not really. They lack that intuition. They’re naive. But do we really expect anything different? This is an organization that has mitigated the future for failed playoff runs time and time again. Their lack of commitment to the gameday experience surrounding Safeco is essentially the short-sighted equivalent of dealing Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb. To them, fans are only worth a damn if they’re locked up inside the palatial prison that Safeco Field has become. As soon as fans step outside those turnstiles? F**k ’em.
So what does all this have to do with their concerns over Hansen’s new arena? Frankly, they don’t want a competitor like Hansen (et al) to have any say in what goes on in SODO. This isn’t a parking concern, or a traffic concern, or any of the other bullshit outlined in that letter you all had the pleasure of reading. This is a concern over another influencer in the vicinity. It’s like when motherf**king Kirk McCray moved in on Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold had his influence on that smokin’ hot babe reduced as a result. Before Kirk McCray, Kevin was the man. THE MAN! After Kirk McCray? Well, Kevin wasn’t nearly as important as he used to be. The Mariners don’t want Chris Hansen and his arena to be their Kirk McCray. And SODO is their Winnie. They own that shit right now. They want to keep it that way.
(Side note: That’s a Wonder Years reference for those of you completely in the dark on that analogy.)
If you’re a Seattle sports fan, this is some bullshit. The Mariners are trying to control your destiny for their own sake. They’ve owned you for 35 years and they want to keep owning you from now until forever. I love that team, but I hate the organization. You can separate one entity from the other. It’s okay to do that. Don’t be blinded by their rhetoric. They’re messing with you, me, and every other fan out there. For the first time, they just happened to cross a line of common decency (a line they were always treading, by the way) in threatening an arena that would all but guarantee the return of the Sonics — OUR SONICS! — to their rightful place in this world of ours.
We could handle it before. The zoning BS. The lack of bars, restaurants, and any discernible gameday experience. The losing product that has plagued us for more than a decade (with two decades of collateral from their conception to back that, no less). But trying to block a do-gooder from doing good for all of us fans? You’re just slapping us in the f**king face at this point, you jerks. You just tore up our schedule, kicked us out of History, and sent us straight to the Ridgemont High principal’s office. In the paraphrased words of Jeff Spicoli, You dicks. You loathsome, jackass, worthless, unsuccessful dicks.
Leave us the hell alone. Back the f**k off. And let Chris Hansen build his arena. For us. The fans. The people you should be looking out for.