Mariners' new scoreboard: hit or miss?

Nov 23, 2012

"It's more of a hood ornament when no one is really buying the car."

That's what KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel has to say about the Mariners' plans for a new scoreboard at Safeco Field - at an estimated cost of $10 million.

Biggest in baseball

The Mariners recently announced their plans for the new scoreboard, which will almost be the size of a city block. It will be the biggest in Major League Baseball and one of the biggest in all of sports.

But Art says it's bad timing. The news comes on the heels of a season ticket price increase and a lack of significant changes to player personnel (although they did offload disappointing veteran Chone Figgins this week at a cost of $8.5 million). Not to mention another losing season.

"It plays to a lot of cynical Mariner fans' worst instinct and that is that the Mariners care more about the 'fan experience' at Safeco than they do about putting a winning team on the field."

The upgrade was needed. Safeco Field’s failing screen was 13 years old. The Mariners are required by the lease to keep the facility in first-class condition. Art points out the money for capital improvements is a budget line separate from business operations and player personnel.

The new scoreboard will feed the fans' growing need for more statistics - as well as provide replays, scores and highlights with all the latest bells and whistles.

'Another tone-deaf move'

But Art says fans would be better served if the team spent more money on getting more talent.

"Fans invest in a team for emotional reasons. Not for logical reasons. Not for budget reasons. It's about passion. You're seeing the Mariners invest in a bauble. It just doesn't make a lot of emotional sense for Mariner fans to see this kind of investment going into the stadium when all they want is a competitive, winning ball club. It's another tone-deaf move on the part of the Mariners."

Read more about what Art has to say on this issue at Sportspress Northwest.