The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker wrote an excellent piece Wednesday discussing the financial future of the Seattle Mariners, stating that the team is likely in line for some pennies from heaven when their with ROOT Sports (owned by DirceTV) contract when an opt-out clause comes to pass in 2015.
Baker spoke to Adam Chase, a Washington D.C. based lawyer who has spent years working on sports licensing and media contracts. He believes the Mariners could have a better chance at a big money deal now that they have a chance to renegotiate their 10-year, $450 million deal with ROOT.
"The only way I can see for them not to be able to get a windfall is if the carousel stops, when the music stops'' Chase said. "It doesn't seem like it is. It seems like it's at a pretty feverish point. Will it stop at some point? Potentially. If you have the opportunity to get the money now, I'd say you have to seriously consider taking it.''
"If DirecTV wanted to, they could open up negotiations whenever they want,'' Chase said. "They could say 'Hey, listen, to keep you from going on the open market we're going to negotiate now and lock you up for the next 10 years.''
But the M's certainly have options. Much of this is contingent upon the status of professional sports in Seattle in the near future, whether or not another NBA and/or NHL franchise will come to town. But after his talks with Chase, Baker feels that are three ways the Mariners could go about all this:
1) Renegotiate their current deal with DirecTV or sign another one with rival Comcast to begin in 2015 that ups their current yearly TV rights take.
2) Form their own regional sports network, likely with one or more other pro teams as partners
3) Form their own regional sports network by teaming with an existing network
Starting their own Seattle based network would probably be most idea, especially if new franchises are heading to town, but it wouldn't be bad if they joined on with say, Comcast, for the right price of course. Similar deals with the Rockets and Astros have Comcast owning a percentage of the team.
Waiting to see if basketball and hockey are returning to Seattle isn't exactly the best plan for the M's but you have to go where the money flows. But if it's flowing right now, it might behoove them to simply take it.
For more on the Mariners offseason, check out Lookout Landing.