Seattle Mariners broadcasters often refer to T-Mobile Park as “the best ballpark in baseball.” In this case, that’s not just “homer”-ism! T-Mobile Park routinely receives high marks from fans and players alike for its outstanding amenities, affordability, fantastic sight lines, public art, and unbeatable views of the city and surrounding mountains and Puget Sound.
T-Mobile Park is host to not only 81 Seattle Mariners games every year, but to around 500 other events each year ranging from major sports contests and concerts to graduations, business meetings, weddings, and receptions. The park can accommodate gatherings of as few as a dozen people to up to hundreds or even thousands!
T-Mobile Park was born out of a desire to have an outdoor baseball stadium to replace the Kingdome, which was the home of the Mariners for their first 21 seasons in the American League. In September 1995, King County held a special election asking the people to approve a 0.1 percent increase in the local sales tax, which would have been sufficient to fund construction of a new ballpark with a retractable roof. The proposal failed by the narrowest of margins, less than one percent of the vote. In October 1995, the state legislature authorized a different sort of funding approach that included a food and beverage tax in King County restaurants and bars and a car rental surcharge in the county. It also allowed a credit against the state sales tax, a tax on admissions to the ballpark, and revenue from lottery games and sales of special stadium license plates. The legislature approved that package, and the King County Council created the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District to oversee construction and operation of the ballpark.
The revenue from the new taxes was used to pay off bonds issued for stadium construction. The bonds were paid off early, in 2011, five years ahead of schedule. That saved the public about $44 million in interest costs. The taxes created to fund the construction of the ballpark have been ended with the exception of the admissions tax and a parking tax, which continue to help pay for maintenance of T-Mobile Park.