The Seattle Mariners like to say that their fans are “True to the Blue,” but the new look and some of the amenities at T-Mobile Park, the team’s newly named hometown stadium, could lead people’s allegiances to take on a magenta hue.
T-Mobile, the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier, paid a reported $87.5 million as part of a 25-year deal to take over naming rights during the offseason for what had been Safeco Field for 20 years. Next Thursday, fans will enter T-Mobile Park for the first time for the Mariners home opener. GeekWire got an inside look on Wednesday, as workers busily hung new signage, painted, prepped a preview menu and tended to the grounds.
Giant pink and white T-Mobile Park signs are now hung above the home plate entrance (above the statue of Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr.) and elsewhere. But the sign T-Mobile customers will want to look for is on the left field side of the stadium, along South Royal Brougham Way. At the T-Mobile Customer Entrance, the carrier’s customers will gain fast-track entry through a gate with magenta accents — all they have to do is show the attendant their phone.
The ability to to use fast track and avoid the lines at other gates — presumably full of AT&T and Verizon customers? — is good for any event at the ballpark and is a practice that T-Mobile also employs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Once inside that particular gate, fans will be in close proximity to The ‘Pen, Powered by T-Mobile. The reimagined experience near the bullpen behind the left field wall and wrapping around behind center field, is probably where guests will see the most magenta.
Steel support beams were being painted magenta on Wednesday and will serve as indicators of where mobile charging stations are located. Each beam will have 32 outlets. Fans trying to use their phones, at least if they’re on T-Mobile, will also see benefits.
“In regard to coverage, we’ve increased capacity in and around T-Mobile Park by three times,” said Krystal McIntosh of T-Mobile. “So there should be no problems uploading, streaming, showing all of your Instagram Stories when you’re here at the game.”
T-Mobile also had an interactive Home Run Challenge set up on the plaza beyond center field in which fans are invited to step up to the plate and hit a ball off a tee into a screen. The animation — which makes it look like you’re hitting the ball toward the Space Needle — tracks the power of your drive. And, because it all ties back to T-Mobile, the challenge lets you hit in 4G and 5G settings.
I hit four balls on Wednesday and in 4G, they were weak grounders back toward the infield. In 5G, I hit towering home runs.
T-Mobile’s Tech Experience will also extend outside the ballpark, at least through Opening Day, as the company is taking over the corner of Edgar Martinez Drive South and 1st Avenue South, next to Henry’s Tavern. And T-Mobile Tuesdays, in which customers already get free stuff and deals as a gesture of appreciation, will extend to T-Mobile Park when the Mariners play at home on that day of the week.
T-Mobile didn’t just get into the game when it decided to go after naming rights in Seattle. The company was already a sponsor of Major League Baseball, and just extended that deal another four years. According to Forbes, T-Mobile continues to be the Official Wireless Sponsor of MLB, as well as the title sponsor of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby during All-Star Week. Customers can also get a free full season of MLB.TV through their T-Mobile Tuesday app from March 26 through April 1.
Elsewhere in The ‘Pen, where Seattle hip-hop star Macklemore will perform on Thursday before the game against the Boston Red Sox, fans can get their hands on a new signature cocktail called the Magenta Mojo. T-Mobile partnered with the Mariners and enlisted Anu Apte of Seattle’s Rob Roy to come up with the drink, which of course is just the right color for the new park.
Built to be refreshing and “disruptively light,” Apte said the drink will help fans “stay in that good-sportsmanship mood.” It will sell for $12.50, and if you want a blinking magenta ice cube tossed in, the price jumps to $15.50.
The Mariners and T-Mobile also hosted a menu preview to show off new vendors and food items that will be available at various points around the park.
Seattle chef and restaurateur Ethan Stowell is a partner with the Mariners and he was on hand Wednesday, as was a new burger with his name on it, featuring a hyper-local beef patty from Crowd Cow, the Seattle-based startup and online marketplace for quality beef products. We also sampled bites from burger chain Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken and Paseo.
And the tastiest fare may have been the new Grand Salami Sandwich, a tribute to beloved Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus that will be available at the ballpark’s Sultan of Sandwich.
Speaking of food, we did ask whether T-Mobile CEO John Legere would show up at the park to host an episode of “Slow Cooker Sunday,” his weekly show in which he plugs his company and shares a Crock-Pot recipe. There will be at least one, we were told.
Meanwhile, as the smell of burgers and fresh magenta paint filled the air, signs of the old Safeco Field — including some actual signs — were still visible around the ballpark as workers scurried to get the name change in place before the team returns next week. Trash cans along the mezzanine still had the Safeco logo. Other directional signs marking seat sections and so forth had been removed but not yet carted away.
But above the stands in left field, on a sunny and warm day that definitely felt like baseball weather, the iconic clock tower sign, with Seattle’s skyline rising behind it, had been changed to T-Mobile Park.
The time had come.