SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners have announced their first off-season acquisition, and it has nothing to do with the games on the field.
The M's have signed a 23-year lease to run the old Pyramid Brewing site at 1201 1st Avenue South, and plan to renovate the 30,000 square foot space to include a restaurant, indoor/outdoor space, and future office space.
But the highlight is likely to be "Steelheads Alley," named for the 1946 Seattle Negro League team, and run Metier Brewing, the state's first black-owned brewery. It will be located between the year-round restaurant and event space.
"We saw this as an opportunity to revitalize SoDo," said Mariners Vice President and General Counsel Fred Rivera as he led KING 5 through the space Tuesday morning. "We want to be a participant in revitalizing this neighborhood. SoDo needs that."
Rivera said the organization will spend "tens of millions" of dollars on the renovation, which is already underway. It will include earthquake-retrofitting the building, first constructed in 1914 along an old rail line, and landscaping the exterior along 1st. There will be additional windows, and multiple entrances too. It has been unoccupied since Pyramid abandoned the spot in March 2020.
"You'll be coming to a space that celebrates award-winning beers, and also celebrates some of the rich diverse history of Seattle," said Metier co-founder and CEO Rodney Hines.
The space will be filled with history of the old Seattle team, with old photos, including the late Herb Simpson, who played first base and outfield for the Steelheads in the West Coast Baseball Association.
Hines said the organization will continue to follow the principles it was founded upon, "to work with other people we've historically worked with, Black and Brown folks... In terms of vendor relationships, in terms of building our brand."
He continued, "I think there is a tremendous opportunity, but I also recognize there is a tremendous responsibility, in this moment, to say who are we as a city, and how are we helping all of us return to a place that's better than we were pre-pandemic."
Rivera said the space will be open year-round, and has the ability to be sectioned off depending on the nearby events. For instance, a smaller portion of the venue could be used on a weeknight in April, while summer months could allow the Mariners to open up all indoor and outdoor spaces. It will also be dog-friendly.
The M's have been working with Andersen Construction and SHKS Architects to provide the design and restoration consulting. Interior demolition work has already begun. Rivera said the goal is to have the space open by July or August 2022. Future phases, which include office space for small community non-profits on the second and third floors, will come later.
The franchise's expansion into SoDo follows a trend among professional sports teams to expand their footprint, and create a game-day destination for fans.
In Saint Louis, the Cardinals have built a Ballpark Village across the street from Busch Stadium, for instance. Rivera said this will fit into the neighborhood, while also not impacting the maritime and industrial nature of SoDo.
"While we are doing what other teams have done, we think we're going to be different, have a distinguished look versus other ballpark neighborhoods," said Rivera.
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