Posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:56 AM
SEATTLE -- Opening Day is still more than a month away, but it is “Game On” at Safeco Field.
The Mariners have spent millions on several changes to the ballpark, which spokesperson Rebecca Hale calls “the largest simultaneous work we’ve done in an off-season."
It includes a new HD scoreboard, an expansion of the center field lounge area known as “The Pen” and an idea born out of Left Field: Edgar’s Cantina.
The new, open-air, restaurant and bar takes the place of several seats near the left field line, and will allow fans to catch home runs balls and hold beers at the same time.
Hale says the changes were prompted by the biggest move of the off-season: moving in the fences. The additional room gave the Mariners the opportunity to make changes.
The Mariners gained an additional 12 feet of space near left center field, and four feet throughout most of the rest of the park.
Contractors finished the concrete pour on the walls today, and are still working on welding and placing the plywood. It will be done before Opening Day.
The Mariners hope the changes will improve the fan experience, and reverse a negative trend. The team leads all of professional sports in attendance decline over the last decade, with a plunge of 51.4%.
“We do know that attendance has been dropping, we get it,” said Hale. “We recognize it’s the product on the field that’s going to bring the fans to the ballpark.”
Hale says that was part of the strategy to move the walls in.
“We recognize what’s really going to bring fans in, and keep them coming back, is the team has gotta win some ballgames," said Hale.
“If they’re winning, we’re winning,” said Zach Lee.
Lee runs the Pyramid Brewpub across the street from Safeco Field. He’s hopeful the team changes on and off the field will turn the tide.
“I’m not optimistic. I’m excited. We’ll put it that way,” said Lee.
The Mariners open at home against the Houston Astros on April 8th.