The Stranger newspaper in Seattle did a clever thing in its coverage of the Mariners‘ new lease extension on Safeco Field: Instead of just looking at the $135 million in public money for renovations the team will be getting, the paper calculated whether the M’s $1.5 million-a-year rent is what they should be expected to pay for office space in the city. The result:
Between club level administrative offices and suite level administrative offices, the Mariners have 35,135 square feet of office space….
Most recently, Class A office space is going for $47.06 per square foot in the downtown Seattle region. … Some pretty simple math (it’s multiplication, okay) applying that figure to the Mariners’ square-footage of office space shows that the Mariners’ rent is $153,453 below market value.
And as the Stranger’s Nathalie Graham notes, that’s just for the actual office space at the stadium — it’s “not even taking into account THE ENTIRE BASEBALL STADIUM that they occupy.” (Scare boldface all-caps in original.)
It’s nearly impossible to calculate fair market rent on a baseball stadium since the “market” consists almost entirely of sweetheart deals, but suffice to say that what looked like a bad deal for Seattle taxpayers just got even worse.