Constructive things to do about Section 101

DMZ · August 30, 2004 at 8:52 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Concrete things you can do
If you’re as ticked as I am about the Mariners’ decision to destroy the beer garden and sacrifice stadium personality and fan experience for the sake of ~240 bad seats, here are actual things you can do to try and get this fixed.

Your message
Use your own words, feelings, and examples, but you want something like–

The Mariners have destroyed the center field landing, a unique feature of Safeco Field, in order to insert about 240 more seats in center field. The sunny beer garden, enjoyed by many every game and a key part of Safeco Field’s fun atmosphere, has been sacrificed because the Mariners thought they might make an extra half-million in revenue this year on seat revenues. While it was bad enough that last season they snuck bleachers in for certain high-demand games, it’s even worse this year as the seating section is present every game, whether there are two people sitting there or twenty — and the Mariners still claim they’re temporary. As someone who paid a share of the over three hundred million dollars to provide the Mariners with this stadium, I am appalled both at this decision and at the failure of the Public Facilities District to exercise their oversight authority and stop this.

I know that’s not my finest writing, but it’s intended as an example of what you could say. Change and embellish as best suits you. If you’ve stopped going, put that in there. If you’re not buying beer, put that in there, if you’re just dismayed and disappointed, put that in there. Be specific, pointed, and quick. You’re much more likely to be printed/read/paid attention to if it’s a sharp jab instead of, say, extended torture by phone-book reading.

Please don’t cut-and-paste that: editors and everyone else can smell fake letters pretty well, it’ll only annoy them, and it definately won’t get run. Please don’t test that theory.

Talk to people
Point it out when you’re at the park. Mention it to people you know are fans. Everyone I’ve talked to about this, down the most casual of fans at the park, reacts badly: “What? Are you serious? That’s awful.”

Make sure people know. The more people know, the less likely this is to come back.

Bug the Mariners
Call, write, or email the Mariners to tell them you’re ticked off about this. Writing letters is good, but does cost money. The Mariners do care about fan opinions, and if they think it will drive revenues, they’ll sit right up.

P.O. Box 4100
Seattle, WA 98194

Phone: (206) 346-4001

Bug the PFD
Call or fax the PFD and ask them to please exercise their oversight responsibility and keep the Mariners from repeating this mistake next season.
Phone (206)664-3076
Fax (206)664-3194
No email contact yet.

Bug your local media
Write a letter to your favorite (or least-favorite) paper or columnist and express your opinion, or ask them to write about this. Call into sports talk radio — this is a power-to-the-people story, and I’m shocked that they haven’t already all taken up torches to rail against the team.

Seattle Times Editorial Board
Fax: (206) 382-6760
Letters Editor
The Seattle Times
PO Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111

Seattle Times Sports page
Sports Editor
The Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111

Fax: (206) 464-3255

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle PI did take a shot at them, but hasn’t made this a story.

Letters to the editor link or email Or:
P.O. Box 1909
Seattle WA 98111-1909

Letter to the sports page: email

Tacoma News Tribune

The Editor
The News Tribune
PO Box 11000
Tacoma, Wa. 98411
Fax: (253) 597-8451

They even let you call the sports desk: 253-597-8680 (kudos for printing that, btw)

Seattle Weekly
Send a letter to the editor at Mention that you’re disappointed that they were willing to run what was easily the harshest and most prescient coverage of the Mariners before the season when that took a little courage, and then passed this up.

The Stranger

Letters to the editor go to

Let us know
If you get published in the paper, or get your voice on the air, or you hear anything else about this, drop us a line and we’ll get a link up.


27 Responses to “Constructive things to do about Section 101”

  1. Kevin Drakulich on August 30th, 2004 1:18 pm

    I missed the PI’s shot at them, could Derek (or anyone else who saw it) post a link or point me towards it?

  2. jason in nj on August 30th, 2004 1:31 pm

    thank you derek!

  3. Measure on August 30th, 2004 1:43 pm

    Has anyone considered that the ownership group (or perhaps individual owners) are acting in such ways as to be able to sell off the team for a profit?

    Over a single season, half a million dollars from extra seats doesn’t look like much, but if you are pitching the team to a perspective buyer, and you can say “potential for x revenue over 20 years” the extra seats add up.

    In my view, since about mid-2001, the mariners ownership has been squeezing every aspect of the team for the maximum profit possible. Either they’re a bunch of greedy old bastards, or they are trying to make the team as attractive as possible for a potential sale.

  4. Roger Thornhill on August 30th, 2004 2:08 pm

    below is the email i sent to the mariners fan feedback address:

    this season has gone from bad to worse. the performance on the field has led to my going to fewer games than in season’s past. but, it didn’t stop me from attending full stop.


    last week, i went to see the m’s lose yet again. but, you’ve now eliminated the best feature of the ballpark. replacing the beer garden with more cheap seats made me completely lose faith in the front office.

    i will never attend another mariners game as long as the beer garden is missing. the very idea that you would punish the few fans that remain with this stunt is beyond a slap in the face. it’s a kick in the crotch.

    go, devil rays!

  5. DMZ on August 30th, 2004 2:26 pm

    Kevin — here’s the link to the post on the PI’s shot.

  6. Jon Wells on August 30th, 2004 2:45 pm

    If it’s their intention to sell the team, GREAT! The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Get rid of Lincoln, et al? That’s a no brainer.

  7. Ralph Malph on August 30th, 2004 3:34 pm

    Be careful what you wish for. We now have ownership willing to set payroll in the upper echelons of the league in order to field a competitive (if not championship) team while making a hefty profit.

    Ownership concerned ONLY with profit would probably follow a Kansas City Royals/Milwaukee Brewers strategy and cut payroll in half, earning an even bigger profit while fielding a consistently bad team.

    In other words, we could do a lot worse.

  8. Daniel Hallows on August 30th, 2004 3:35 pm

    In my view…They’re just greedy ol’ Bastards!

  9. Jack on August 30th, 2004 3:38 pm

    Could you start a similar grass roots campaign to overthrow Rick Rizzs, Ron Fairly, and the assortment of ex-players that get tossed in there? Those guys are an embarrassment to the organization and unbearable to listen to. I listen as much as I can to the visitor feeds on, but when I watch a game I’m forced to mute it. Thanks for the consideration.

  10. Steve Alliston on August 30th, 2004 3:50 pm

    My letter to the M’s:

    Dear The Mariners,
    I’m not at all happy with a lot of what’s going on with the M’s lately. You drove away one of the finest managers in the league, made some terrible personnel decisions and have let one of the best-supported franchises in sports fall into complete disarray. This has to be seen as one of the worst failures of management in sports history. However today, I’m just writing about seats and beer.
    You charge about eight bucks for a good beer. That’s obscene, but I pay it because there’s not much better than watching baseball with a cold beer. One of the best places to enjoy beer and baseball was the center field landing. Now it’s gone, thanks to still more questionable management decision-making. I guess it wasn’t making enough money for the team, so rather than coming up with a creative way to use the space you decided to plop a section of seats there. This is the kind of simplistic, risk averse, Rich-Aurillia-signing-esque thinking I’ve come to expect from you guys and I’m tired of it. You see how Bucky Jacobsen is doing? Sometimes you need to take a shot on something that has promise but is as-yet unproven. It’s what bright executives are paid to do. Give it a shot with the center field landing and get rid of those darned seats!

    Weary fan,
    Steve Alliston

  11. JP Wood on August 30th, 2004 3:57 pm

    To the P-I sports staff:

    What in the world are the M’s thinking? Putting more seating in the CF landing to make more money when a third of less than a full-house shows up is poor planning at best, a kick in the trick knee at worst. That landing was one of the greatest open spaces in Safeco before it tried to grab up all the other empty seats. It might gain the Mariners another 250K, but that’s not likely, which wouldn’t be even another minor league call-up from Tacoma. Is there a short-term chance that the CF landing will again be a friendly and family free-for-all within smelling distance of the outfield grass?

  12. Kevin on August 30th, 2004 4:27 pm

    I am having a hard time getting fired up about this. Reasons:

    1) I am almost always at the ballpark with my kids and never get close to the beer garden,
    2) The beer garden tended to be full of obnoxious frat types anyway, usually too hammered to realize they just stepped on your foot and made you spill half your beer. (On the other hand, unleashing these “fans” on the general population IS a bummer.)
    3) Yes, it seems stupid to add more seats to an empty stadium, but the explanation in the P-I is reasonable: once they’ve sold the seats, they’re kind of stuck with putting the section in there. It was a bad decision, but no worse than many others, probably not even in the top ten this year.

    In terms of enhancing the stadium, how about putting some energy into adding a Yankees-style short porch in right field? It would be a good test of the Ichiro-can-hit-home-runs-at-will theory.

  13. Paul Mocker on August 30th, 2004 6:04 pm

    The Beer Garden! Ah, such memories. There occurred perhaps the greatest moment of my life as a Mariner fan. I snuck in to Game 3 of the 2000 ALDS with a pretty gal whom I met outside the park. (The manner in which we got in the gate is a story for another time.) The gal and I had a great time, the M’s won, I asked for her phone number later and two weeks later….poof, she wasn’t as much of a baseball fan as I thought.

    Back to the subject. I don’t care much for the new seats. But, if it helps to pay for good players they are fine with me. And I don’t mind the owners pocketing it. The notion that the owners “owe” the fans for the taxes that helped pay for the park doesn’t really motivate me. I exact a return toll by never buying food or drink at the game. I have recouped my share of the “tax payment” this season already. Plus I eat healthier food. (BTW, it’s easy to bring beer into the stadium.)

    The PFD desires to reclaim the pastoral nature of baseball, as indicated in their mission statement. To that end I request that the PFD require the M’s to lower, drastically lower, the volume of the music and announcements played on the PA system. I can barely have a decent conversation. The aurul bombardment is an insult to anyone who wants to follow the actions on the field.

    I grew up watching the Dodgers. In sweet Chavez Ravine, one could hear the lovely organ stylings of Helen Dell. Other than that, the game’s peaks and valleys provided the only reason for noise. There were no hydro races, or shell games designed only for temporary amusement.

    I propose a promotion that empashizes the pastoral game from which today’s game came from. No noise would be the key but the sound of the train fits with this idea as the whistle harkens back to that era in the 19th Century of cornfields and hobos. Old-style uniforms, sasparilla sold by the vendors, give aways, the ideas are endless.

  14. Chris Begley on August 30th, 2004 6:14 pm

    I would love to attend a professional sporting event without the music, scoreboard races, fan-o-meter etc etc.
    I was at a BC Lions football game this weekend and on 1st and 10, the Lions D stuffed the Argos in the backfield. Crucial 2nd and 12 (3 down football). The Crowd starting to build up noise – and they play some stupid music, drowning out the fans and quieting us down.

    I hate it!

  15. David J Corcoran on August 30th, 2004 6:55 pm

    This is off topic, but I just bought my first ever Baseball Prospectus. I know the season is almost over, but it is proving to be the best thing I have spent my money on in a loooooong time.

  16. Pat on August 30th, 2004 7:06 pm

    I just sent this to the M’s feedback address:

    Dear M’s feedback account,

    I am writing to describe and vent my frustration with a variety of the M’s decisions this year, which have led to my low game attendance and even lower television and radio broadcast interest.

    In years past – from my arrival in Seattle in 1987 onward – I have attended some 15-20 games per year, and watched about half of the games on TV or listened on the radio. I’ve been with you in good years and bad.

    This year I attended Opening Day and the Jay Buhner retirement night. I’ve seen or heard broadcasts of approximately 15 games, nearly all of them in April.

    This year, however, has been as frustrating as any year I can recall. Lou Piniella’s decision to leave was clearly the result of a management decision to be “competitive, but not too competitive”. Pat Gillick leaving and being replaced by Bill Bavasi has been shown in one year to be an unmitigated disaster. The organizational philosophy to acquire aging veterans on the downside of their careers and sign them to short contracts, in addition to a refusal to pursue young free agent talent has exploded in our faces. This year’s talent evaluation was brutal. Seeing Vlad Guerrero sign with a division rival for what can only be described as an excellent deal for the Angels was sad. Seeing Rich Aurilia, Scott Spiezio, Raul Ibanez (a decent sign, but why give up a draft pick for him?) come in and be expected to produce in the downside of their careers was frustrating. Losing a continually-improving Carlos Guillen (not an all-star, but in the top third of his position in the league) was frustrating. What was up with Quentin McCracken anyway?!?

    More frustrating was watching the fuzzy accounting which gobbled up Kaz Sasaki’s payroll entry, the disingenuous spin put on that money that the fans realized would never see the payroll again.

    There are some bright spots – we get to see whether Bucky Jacobsen is for real, Justin Leone looks serviceable, Miguel Olivo will be solid. Will any of them be around to compete on the next M’s pennant contender? Perhaps, but they’re not 3-4-5 hitters that we so desperately need.

    In my 2nd game I got to see Buhner’s retirement. My friend and I – he whom I attend half my games with – stared in disgust at the cheap bleachers put up in the used-to-be-fun outfield landing. C’mon, M’s! taking away park amenities in a season in which the team is horrible and getting worse – that’s not going to gain any fan support whatsoever.

    Next year? Overpay for young talent (Beltran, Beltre) . Bring back the centerfield beer garden. Reconsider the value of defense in this particular ballpark. Lower ticket prices to regain fan support. Take a huge whack out of concession prices, and I’ll begin buying food and drink again. And take a long, hard, critical look at the general manager position. To have blown up a team this badly is a bad sign for the job performance of the new guy.

  17. DMZ on August 30th, 2004 7:09 pm

    Paul: I can understand your sentiment, but — well, I think you’re wrong. When public funding paid for the stadium instead of (say) a $340m house for me, it was because professional baseball is a shared community resource that has wide-ranging benefits, as well as being a private business (whether you buy that argument or not, of course, is a different matter). Since the Mariners took that money, in my estimation they have an obligation to the community to respect the reasons we built it: to have a unique, cool, stadium that would be a source of pride and benefit to the whole area.

    They have not done so.

    If the Mariners want to do whatever they want to to their field, making only pure business decisions at every turn, they should have built it themselves, with their own money. Just as you wouldn’t (I hope) come over to my house and remodel my living room, the Mariners should respect the city and our reasons for building Safeco Field as we did.

    On noise, etc: I couldn’t agree more. I wish the M’s would at least have a “Turn-back-the-clock” day once a year where they turned off the scoreboards, etc., and went all manually-operated. I’d attend every year, without fail, and buy the best tickets I could find.

  18. Dave on August 30th, 2004 7:43 pm

    Now there’s a fun off topic conversation; what would Derek’s $340 million dollar house be like?

    First two words that come to my mind: Beer room.

  19. Paul Mocker on August 30th, 2004 8:19 pm

    In a perfect world government would not aid and abet the creation of wealth by the few. The Mariners and major league baseball in general are one of many industries given an unfair advantage by legislators dating back to the time of the inception of capitalism. It won’t end and I hate to be pessimistic. Nevertheless, I have to be honest. My forecast is gloomy.

    I agree with you that they need to be more accountable and listen to their consumers. (The PFD won’t make them accountable.) But they are listening. They put those seats in because people who couldn’t buy seats wanted more seats. They blare music and play silly video games because families have said, in no uncertain terms, that they want their kids to be entertained.

    On the issue of being proud of your stadium I wholeheartedly agree. After Saturday’s game I actually entertained the notion of not going back to the park because it wasn’t enjoyable. I wear my Pirates hat because I want people to ask about the Bucs so I can tell them how cool PNC Park is and the reasons it’s cool. But, the fact is there are as many views of what defines a cool stadium as there are voices to tell them. You share your view, I share mine, and hopefully the consensus that results is satisfactory. I don’t need to remind you that the current ballpark is much better than the Kingdome. Progress has been made.

    I’m sure I have strayed from the topic so I will add two things:

    I hope to make them listen TO ME by withholding money for non-essentials. Perhaps it won’t work but I have to say something. In my own way, little way, by not providing the M’s with more than the cost of a ticket, I am making my little statement.

    Nevertheless, thanks for your time in writing this article and providing contact information. I sent my letter to fan feedback and feel better about myself.

  20. Paul Mocker on August 30th, 2004 8:21 pm

    OFF TOPIC: How can my friend get an autograph from Ichiro? He and his boy have been standing near the player auto entrance all summer and Ichiro has driven by each and every time.

    Does he have some stipulation in his contract against this? I’m curious.


  21. Everett on August 30th, 2004 8:42 pm

    Paul, none of the players are supposed to stop and sign, at least according to the signs they’ve got posted. I’ve stood there after probably 10 games, and none of them have ever stopped. While many of the Ms are very good about signing, particularly during BP if you’re down along the fence, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ichiro signing.

  22. Jon Wells on August 30th, 2004 9:18 pm

    Best place to get Ichiro’s autograph is definitely during spring training. I’m there for 2 weeks every year and during that time it seems he signs prior to at least 3 or 4 games every year. Sure you have to be in the right place at the right time when he decides to sign but because there’s a lot fewer people at spring training games, there’s a much better chance to get it there. He usually signs in the 30 minute time period before the exhbition games begin. He’s pretty good at making the kids happy there…

  23. Gabriel on August 31st, 2004 1:10 am

    Drudge has a place on his site where you can submit anonymous tips. I submitted “Mariners replace beer garden with more seats; fans angry” and the automatic reply was “will consider and investigate.” This will probably all be taken care of soon.

  24. David J Corcoran on August 31st, 2004 8:56 am

    Dear M’s Management:

    It is absolutely pathetic. I am a loyal fan since I was born, but I am getting fed up with the evilness of ownership. We have the second highest revenue in baseball, yet we have one of the average payrolls, we field a losing team, and management and the front office is so desiring to make money they have torn down the beer garden for cheap seats, and apparently now the brick area. This is pathetic, awful, and despicable. Especially considering people paid money for those bricks. I don’t give a dam n about how ownership saved baseball, Howard Lincoln, and John Ellis are awful, despicable people, with no desire but to fill their greedy pockets with money they don’t even need. I thank you for notifying me of this. This is just getting absolutely ridiculous. Especially considering attendance is dropping. Why add bleacher seats if less people are coming? From a business standpoint that doesn’t even make sense. I live in Idaho, and chances are looking slimmer that I will get to the Safe this year, and as much as I love baseball, and the Mariners, maybe I won’t go to the Safe. I’ll go to Oakland when Seattle plays them and watch them there. It is only 2 hours further, and I would know I am spending money on an organization that cares about it’s fans, and at least makes a true attempt to please it’s fans.
    An Angry Fan

  25. Jim Thomsen on August 31st, 2004 11:55 am


    I’m buried under other freelance work at the moment, but I’d like to take this up for the Weekly. Perhaps I could attend a game with you to get a better living illustration of the problem? (I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to Safeco since early June.) I’m sure Chuck Taylor would go for it … he seems to have a predilection for populist issues. E-mail me.

  26. Matt on August 31st, 2004 1:42 pm

    Don’t tell them you’ve stopped buying beer! They’d put lawn chairs in left field if they thought it would cause people to drink less beer. I have a hunch this management would support prohibition if it had caused only 90% as much damage as it did the 1st time.

  27. Saluboy on September 4th, 2004 3:44 am

    My Letter to FanFeedback. I’ll post if there are any resultant follow-ups.

    My dear Seattle Mariners front office,

    As a background so that you can know who is writing this, I am an average avid Mariners fan. I go to about 10 games a year, watch nearly every game I can on TV, follow news daily, and have been a fan ever since, as a 9 year old, I sat behind four tipsy buddies in the 300 level rightfield seats in the Kingdome yelling poignant one-liners like, “Beam it up, Scotty!” when Mr. Bradley came to the plate. I love this orginization, foibles and all, and while I might question things that I feel may be not in the best interests of developing and maintaining a quality product both on and off the field (and boy howdy, this past offseason has been a test), I both condone and condemn with affection and unabashed, unwavering loyalty in my heart.
    That being said, I feel that although I am a typical Seattleite in that I am not very outspoken with my displeasure at certain things, a recent issue has come to a critical point where I feel something must be addressed. Those damned “temporary” bleachers. I was both surprised and saddened to see them my last trip to my Safeco Field. The beer garden that these seats destroy is one of the distinguishing characteristics that I feel my stadium seperates itself from other ballparks around the leauge. Safeco Field is better without these bleachers, experiencing a Mariners game is more enjoyable without these bleachers, I feel that I must take umbrage with this decision to install these seats for the rest of the season and possibly beyond. I disagree with the premise behind installing these bleachers (Quantity over Quality) and would encourage you to abandon this course of action.
    I love this team, am a fan, and will continue to be one throughout my life. I belive with the right moves we can be competitive in 2006. I hope to be able to tell my friends with pride that the Mariners are a Class Act orginization who listens to it’s fan base rather that hang my head and be derided for backing an unfeeling money machine. I hope to share poignant one-liners with my buddies, tipping back a $8.00 tall one (ack) from one of the most distinctive, fan friendly parks in baseball.

    -Nathan Hoover