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MLB gives Seattle $2 million for improvements ahead of All-Star Week

Outside of T-Mobile Park. (Photo: KOMO NewS)
Outside of T-Mobile Park. (Photo: KOMO NewS)
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Major League Baseball and the Mariners are giving $2 million as a "thank you" to the city of Seattle for hosting the upcoming MLB All-Star Week, as there is a question of whether the event can serve as a catalyst, or legacy, for the city.

The money from the “All-Star Legacy Initiative” will be used on several projects, but the most notable is a renovation and renewal of Rainier Playfield located near Columbia City. The park is commonly used by youth baseball and softball teams, including Cleveland High School.

“The All-Star Legacy Initiative delivers on our promise to make a difference in the lives of Seattle’s youth for years to come,” Senior VP for MLB April Brown said in a prepared statement.

Brown and Seattle Mariners leadership noted that the league did something similar for Lower Woodland Park near Green Lake when the team last hosted the All-Star Game in 2001.

RELATED | Mariners president says All-Star week will be 'bigger and broader in scale' than 2001

But it leads to a conversation about whether the event could be a catalyst for something else, particularly in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.

The neighborhood took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen its fair share of encampments, graffiti and crime. The Mariners spent millions in the past couple of years leasing and renovating buildings to increase year-round foot traffic, acknowledging activity is good for the neighborhood’s recovery.

When asked if there are any plans to handle some of the visible blight south of the stadiums, Seattle Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell told KOMO News “there was a stagnation of the city” during COVID, but “We continually work to make sure that the pathway, from say the waterfront of Seattle, hotels to the stadium, that they feel safe for everybody who's going to be patronizing, patronizing the game. We will continue to walk those pathways and will continue to note where there might be some need for improvement.”

RELATED | MLB Amateur draft held at Lumen Field during All-Star week

Mariners Vice President and Legal Counsel Fred Rivera said there have been continued conversations between the city and the franchise about neighborhood concerns. The M’s have sent emails to ticket holders looking for feedback about any safety issues or problems.

“Transportation is a big issue and making sure that our guests can get down here efficiently, safely, and have a great experience,” Rivera told KOMO News. “Part of that includes it being clean and being visibly, visibly appealing and also have lighting and there is lighting under an overpass there.”

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All-Star Week includes the game itself and three other ticketed events. Play Ball Park is an indoor/outdoor experience that will be set up near Lumen Field, and the MLB Draft will be held there as well. The events run from Friday, July 7 through Tuesday, July 11.

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