Why The Mariners Are Being Dickheads About The New SODO Arena

Read the Mariners’ letter expressing concern over the new SODO arena.

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.

11 thoughts on “Why The Mariners Are Being Dickheads About The New SODO Arena”

  1. I guess we should take solice in the fact that the Mariners are actually competing at all.

  2. Awesome, Just awesome! Alright Hamilton! Great article. Instead of putting a better product on the field they would rather just be the only game in town, or sodo in this case. I’ve always wondered why there were no new bars or restaurants down there, this explains a lot.

  3. My two cents:

    This is a phenomenally stupid letter by the Mariners.

    Alex, while I might have to quarrel with a couple of your points, the larger point is true: they’re being dickheads, and it has little to do with traffic or scheduling. Last I checked, NBA/NHL schedules only overlapped for a couple months, and less if the teams don’t make the playoffs (We’re in Seattle, after all.) Also, the area is well served by buses, light rail, and the Sounder, and use of those is only going to grow as the system expands.

    I’m not so sure your characterization of the Mariners’ local hegemony is very accurate. In their dreams, maybe, but not in reality. Safeco was plopped into the middle of an industrial district and the area is far more lively than it was before Safeco opened. It takes a while to build up the gameday atmosphere, and in SODO’s case, the existing building stock looks very different from the area around Fenway. I used to run down to the BP station that had a Taco Bell inside it before games at the Kingdome. There was hardly anything in the neighborhood. Now there are tons more restaurants, bars, and a hotel in its place.

    Despite the warehouse neighborhood, I have to say the gameday scene around Safeco is pretty good, especially now that I can compare it to AT&T Park in San Francisco. (We’ll leave Oakland out of it — it’s swimming in an empty parking lot.) AT&T is in a dense, bustling neighborhood — and yet the gameday atmosphere is considerably less interesting than Safeco outside. Even more than Seattle, people are channeled into the ballpark. There are few restaurants and absolutely no vendors worth speaking of. Every time I go there, I yearn for my Occidental Ave vendors, pedestrian walkway, and hot dogs. It’s not Yawkey, but damn, nowhere else is. In Seattle, I’ve even run into the Pen, had a couple regular priced happy hour beers ($5), headed back to Pyramid, and made it back to Safeco before the first pitch.

    On a bigger level though, yeah. The Mariners have shot themselves in the foot for their relationship with the future Sonics and NHL team. They had little leg to stand on in the first place — “Bellevue, Renton, Seattle Center, and South Lake Union” are pipe dreams with no financial backers with the balls to step forward. Without Chris Hansen, without the SODO plan, you can push back the NBA and NHL presence the Mariners supposedly so desire another 10-15 years. And the one thing you didn’t mention — their ballpark was built by us, the taxpayers. That necessitates a lot more thought and siting consideration than a private man conducting private business (granted, with the wheels greased a bit by the public). It also makes them look pathetic when they complain about somebody else joining the party that everybody but the Mariners management wants to attend.

  4. Lack of game day experience? Didn’t a strip club just go in across the street from safeco?! Lol. Totally agree with your points. Pyramid, Jimmy’s, and maybe sluggers is the only bars worth going to before a ball game. I’ve been to Fenway and loved that atmosphere way better. They (m’s) know what theyre doing marketing wise and this new arena would add its own restraunt/bar. Plus when the tunnel (lol) finally goes in that whole water front will be shops, bars and restraints. Mariners need to face facts, sodo is growing whether a new Nba/NHL arena goes in or not.

  5. Maybe we are looking at this issue the wrong way. maybe the Mariners ownership is still confused about this Chris Hansen guy and are worried about their image. Think about it…building a stadium with a playground, luring children into the stands with toys and bobble heads instead of quality team, allowing them to sit on the lap of a man dressed as a Moose… they better toss all that overpriced Mikes Hard Lemonade before the other Chris Hansen comes after them all Dateline style…

  6. Interesting that they would be so short-sighted. It’s not like it’s obvious or anything. There’s a reason that single store at the end of the mall, surrounded by for-rent spaces doesn’t get as much traffic. Traffic to neighboring – even competing – establishments brings more business in. People are going to go there if there’s a reason to go. Watching the M’s half-assedly compete in a ball game, with absolutely nothing else to do before or after isn’t a very compelling reason to cough up the dough for tickets.

  7. Mariners a perfect example of how to screw over a franchise. That politically correct Seattle B.S doesn’t work with sports. Cause families afraid of bars and fans booing the other players are scared of going outside of their homes.

    Mariners will fail as a franchise and they will be relocated. It’ll be the fault of the ownership group, similar to the Sonics. Neither will come back.

  8. You captured my feelings exactly. I couldn’t believe how these guys would try this, especially after spending $250 on 4 tickets to Opening Day next Friday to watch a team with no chance at competing.

    The Mariners will continue to bank on fans standing hours in lines for bobble heads, and other promotional give a-ways. Anything to get the focus off the actual product on the field.

    Face it, if a brand new arena is built that takes away $$$$ from the Mariners and Safeco Field. If I am in charge of promotions at my company I have to decide where I want my giant logo to be displayed at. Either at Safeco Field with an average of 14,000 fans or at a new arena with sell outs and fan excitement. This doesn’t even include Seahawks/Sounds or the University of Washington fans.

    Mariners needs to get their sh*t straight real fast.

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