Seattle Mariners majority owner and chairman John Stanton thinks the country could really use some baseball right about now to help heal some of its ailments. To get there, his team and the rest of Major League Baseball are instituting measures for dealing with coronavirus which could serve as lessons for other businesses.
“Baseball really does represent an important part of the national psyche,” Stanton said during a virtual fireside chat with Madrona Venture Group last week. “I believe that in my soul, and and for us to get back on the field is vitally important and it is something that we are committed to do.”
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As teams are set to kick off a shortened, 60-game season, the Mariners are following strict guidelines for testing, tracing, cleaning and more. Even though fans won’t be in T-Mobile Park, the safety of players, coaches and ballpark personnel is paramount.
MLB put together a 111-page manual, and the Mariners have their own 60-page manual describing some of the technology being used to sanitize surroundings. Some of what is being used is similar to measures taken by the Space Needle, which hopes to reopen soon after spending $1 million on safety measures.
- Electrostatic sprayers: Portable, hospital-grade machines with touchless disinfection functions capable of disinfecting areas of 500 square feet in less than three minutes.
- Ionization air purification system: T-Mobile Park will be able to reduce outdoor airintake, kill pathogens and more with little maintenance.
- VeriClean portable UV-C wand: Device uses UV-C light to eliminate the threat of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and allergy-inducing microorganisms.
Stanton, a wireless industry veteran who took over as CEO of the Mariners in 2016, said he gets tested for coronavirus twice a week and players are tested every other day. He said it’s important to have a contact tracing system and the organization has added tracers as a new job description this season.
“I’ve talked to folks at Microsoft and Costco about some of the lessons that we’ve learned in terms of how to implement the programs ranging from testing to tracing to cleaning and the steps you have to take in order to ensure your workplace is safe,” said Stanton, who is on the boards of both of those companies. “We want to be a shining star on the way things can work and how we can all get the society back to work.”
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With no fans at the ballpark and two-thirds of the season not being played, and therefore not on television, the Mariners have lost their two biggest sources of revenue. Stanton calls the situation “financially devastating.”
But, as he said, baseball has a way of restoring optimism. Beyond being able to play during the pandemic and keeping everyone healthy, Stanton has lofty expectations.
“We’re going to struggle at times this year. But I believe, and I’ve pretty much promised our fans, we’re gonna win a World Series here in Seattle in the next couple of years,” he said. “And I’ll stick by that promise.”
Stanton, a Seattle native and graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., has led companies ranging from VoiceStream Wireless (the predecessor of the modern day T-Mobile) to Clearwire Corp. In addition, he worked as a top executive at McCaw Cellular and Western Wireless.
Stanton is also an active investor, having founded Trilogy Equity Partners in 2006. He is currently chairman of Year Up of Puget Sound and a board member at the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation (IMHE).
We’ll have more takeaways from Stanton’s fireside chat with Madrona later on GeekWire.