PFD Reviews Mariners Annual Financial Report Today
When the Mariners signed our lease in 1996 to play at Safeco Field, we included a unique arrangement: A guarantee to share profits with the public through the Public Facilities District (PFD). The PFD owns and oversees the operations of the ballpark on behalf of the public.
The arrangement, which was the idea of Mariners then-Chairman and CEO John Ellis, made tangible the idea that the ballpark was truly a partnership between the public and the team.
Here’s how it works. After recovering the financial losses that the organization incurred from 1995-1999 ($200 million), the Mariners would share 10-percent of our profits with the community via the PFD. There is no other such profit-sharing in Major League Baseball or, to our knowledge, in any other professional sport.
Earlier today at its quarterly board meeting, the PFD reviewed the Mariners 2012 financial report to get an update on the status of the profit-sharing. Based on a special calculation in the lease, the Mariners lowered that $200 million of losses (1995-1999) by $7,968,000 last year, which means that just $37,463,000 remains to be recovered before future profits will be shared with the PFD.
Separate and distinct from the special calculation in the lease, the Mariners also reported to the PFD that the club’s operating income in 2012 was $5,863,000. That was mostly due to a couple of mid-season trades that sent Brandon League to the Dodgers and Ichiro to the Yankees. With their new teams picking up the remainder of their salaries for the season, the savings showed up on our ledgers at the end of the fiscal year. But it should be noted that both trades were made for baseball reasons only.
The Mariners ownership group has never received a distribution of profits from team operations. In any season when there has been a profit, those dollars have been reinvested into the franchise to reach its goal of a championship team and to live up to its obligation to maintain Safeco Field.
King County, in an agreement with the Washington State Legislature, created the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) to site, build and oversee operations of a new Major League Baseball Stadium that became Safeco Field. The PFD oversees stewardship of the ballpark and represents the citizens’ interests in changes affecting the ballpark and its surrounding neighborhood. Under a lease with the PFD, the Mariners organization is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations for events. The PFD regularly commissions expert studies (audits, engineering, maintenance, etc.) to ensure the ballpark is operated and maintained in a first-class manner.