Improvement on the field in 2007 helped the Mariners in more ways than their standing in the American League West. An 88-win season and second-place finish in the division helped boost home attendance by nearly 200,000 to 2.67 million, and that played a significant role in the organization, registering a $17.8 million profit for the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2007, according to the team's annual financial report. The report was released Monday to the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD), as required by the organization's 20-year lease at Safeco Field. Club officials noted that along with the bump in home attendance, the Mariners also benefited from healthy national revenues from Major League Baseball.
"We had a good year, both on and off the field," Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said. "The fan response to the team's improved performance was outstanding. Our ownership has always invested all profits back into the team, the franchise and the ballpark, and did so again in 2007." The Mariners' player payroll topped the $113 million mark for the first time in franchise history and was the sixth-highest in the Major Leagues. The payroll is expected to exceed $120 million in 2008 with the acquisitions of starting pitchers Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva, and outfielder Brad Wilkerson. "Our Major League player payroll in 2008 again is substantial," Armstrong said, "and at the same time, we are continuing to make improvements to Safeco Field to keep it in first-class condition for our fans." The 2007 profit moved the Mariners closer to sharing a portion of its profits with the public. The Mariners' lease with the PFD directs that the team will share 10 percent of its annual profits with the PFD once $200 million in operating losses (incurred by the Mariners from July 1995 to October 1999) is recovered. A "special calculation" was created in the lease to determine when profit-sharing would begin. Through 2007, the $200 million in losses has been cut to $53 million, a reduction of almost three-fourths since 1999, when the team moved to Safeco Field. When the "cumulative net loss" reaches zero, the Mariners would begin profit-sharing with the PFD. The organization's lease for Safeco Field, which opened midway through the 1999 season, runs through the 2018 season.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.