BCI+network Case Study: Safeco Field

The issues

Safeco FieldSafeco Field, located in Seattle Washington, is owned by King County and is administered through its Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD). Safeco is home to the Seattle Mariners. The ballpark is operated by the Seattle Mariners under a contract with the Public Facilities District. The agreement between the Mariners and the PFD provides that the Mariners have responsibility for the maintenance of the ballpark. Due to some nebulous language in the operating agreement there were questions as to how the PFD could determine if the Mariners were meeting their obligation under the agreement. The PFD engaged BCI+network to create and implement a process for evaluating whether the Seattle Mariners are meeting their contractual obligation to the PFD to maintain Safeco Field, in what is described in the Ballpark Operations Agreement as “in a manner consistent with the Applicable Standard”.

The “Applicable Standard” is defined in the Ball Park Operations Agreement as:

“Applicable Standard” means in a first class manner (measured with reference to the performance of operators of other Major League Baseball stadiums first opened for play between 1990 and 1999), taking into account the age of the Ballpark and any special needs or limitations resulting from the Ballpark’s design and construction.

The Process

To undertake the work of this project BCI+network assembled a team consisting of engineers from Mark/Okubo, Ben Barton (Ball Park Engineering consultant) and John Christison President of BCI+network. The consulting team was managed by BCI+network. To properly assess Safeco Field, a sample or comparison set needed to be developed. Given that the “Applicable Standard” is based on the performance of a “comparison set” of Major League Baseball Stadiums built between 1990 and 1999, BCI+network determined that the most effective way to determine the quality of the maintenance program provided by the Mariners would be to conduct assessments of each of the ballparks within the “set”, and to use predetermined assessment criteria for these on site assessments. The criteria for these assessments were developed by BCI+network and using a matrix of ballpark functional areas represented in all of the “Applicable Standard” ballparks.

Those functional areas include:

  • Site
  • Shell
  • Public Space/ Circulation
  • Public Restrooms
  • Seating Bowl
  • Food Service Areas                      
  • Retail Areas
  • Suites
  • Club/Function Spaces
  • Press Areas
  • Field Area
  • Maintenance and Operational Areas
  • Services

These functional areas were further broken down in to sub-areas. As an example under the category of Services; the category is further divided into:

  • Vertical transportation
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Fire Protection
  • Electrical                                                        

Other categories are also sub-divided, as an example, the functional area Shell is further broken down into sub-categories:

  • Foundations
  • Superstructure
  • Exterior closures
  • Roofing

Each of these sub-categories is further broken down into detail areas. The sub-category Roofing as an example is broken down into:

  • Roof Covering
  • Roof Openings
  • Projections

After evaluating each of the Ballparks which fit within the 1990 to1999 construction timeline, as set out in the Ballpark Operating Agreement, BCI+network recommended to the PFD that the following Ballparks be used as the “Applicable Standard” for this study:

Oriole’s Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland- Baltimore Orioles-opened for play 1992
Rangers Ball Park, Arlington, Texas- Texas Rangers- opened for play 1994
Jacobs Field, Cleveland, Ohio- Cleveland Indians-opened for play 1994
Coors Field, Denver Colorado- Colorado Rockies-opened for play 1995
Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia- Atlanta Braves-opened for play 1997
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona- Arizona Diamondbacks-opened for play 1998
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington- Seattle Mariners- opened for play 1999

The proposed “Applicable Standard Set” was presented to the PFD Operations Committee and the Seattle Mariners and both the PFD and the Mariners approved the makeup of the set prior to BCI undertaking the assessments.

The makeup of the assessment team was also pre-approved by both the PFD and the Mariners prior to the onset of ballpark assessments. In addition to participation of the members of the inspection team, BCI+network requested that a representative of the Seattle Mariners accompany the team on all inspections. Both the PFD and the Mariners concurred that this was a good step. While the Mariners representative conducted the same assessments as the members of the consultant assessment team, the scores of the Seattle Mariners representative was not included in the over- all scoring. The Mariners retained their inspection ratings in the event that there is a disagreement as to the ratings of the assessment team.

Using the assessment forms created for this process each assessor rated the various functional areas of the ballparks and scores from those assessments were provided to BC+network for aggregation. The assessment scoring process was identical for all ballparks. The scoring system which has a maximum score of 100 points employs a weighted system that gives additional value to certain critical and specific areas.

The completed scores for Safeco Field were presented to both the PFD and the Mariners. The scores of the ballparks other than Safeco, however, are provided to the PDF without name identifiers. The scores of the other ballparks were kept confidential by BCI+network in order to assure cooperation from the other set ballparks. It is unlikely that the ballpark which scores the lowest on these assessment reports would want this information made public.  For the purposes of the study the other stadiums were only identified as ballpark “A”, “B” “C” etc.
Assessment of the ballparks were conducted and all scoring was aggregated by BCI+network and presented to the PFD and the Mariners.

The Results

The Public Facilities District was pleased with the results of the process and were able to determine, based on a set of specified criteria, how the Mariners were performing maintenance activities compared to a defined set of comparable entities. The Public facilities District has re-engaged BCI+network to conduct a similar process every three years to continue its due diligence responsibility to the public ownership of the ballpark.