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By Trenton Jocz, SportsRadio KJR Intern
When news broke that the Mariners had purchased ROOT Sports yesterday, hope was sprung among Mariners fans that the team would emulate the payroll increases of other teams that had obtained rights to their own network.
However, in an exclusive with KJR’s Jason Puckett, Mariners President Chuck Armstrong quickly snuffed out the possibility of matching dollars with cash flush teams like the Rangers, Angels and Dodgers, at least for now.
“We hope that’s the case longer term but at least initially, as we said, we are making a substantial, a very large investment to buy the majority interest in this thing, so we’re not […] getting any money out. In fact, that’s going to be delayed. We’re putting a lot of money in, but down the road we think it’s going to stabilize a lot of things for us” Armstrong said.
Armstrong also addressed the rumors surrounding the team that minority owner John Stanton may make a run at obtaining majority ownership, a storyline that only gained legs upon yesterday’s news. Again he emphasized maintaining the status quo saying, “There are no plans to change. These are kind of like ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ questions, that there’s been no talk about it. In fact, I would submit that making a huge investment into a regional sports network would imply the opposite: that the ownership group is going to stay as is.”
A large story in the media has also been the team’s opposition to the location of a new basketball arena should Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and the prospective NBA ownership succeed in bringing hoops back to Seattle. With the team’s acquisition of the very network that aired Sonics games prior to their Oklahoma City exodus, it was reasonable to doubt whether a new Sonics team could air on a network owned by the Mariners.
Armstrong continued to steady the waters though, saying “We’ve always indicated we have a problem with the location and not sure how that’s going to be worked out, but that has nothing to do with programming rights and discussions […] We’d love to carry the Sonics. ROOT Sports carried the Sonics when they were here before. ROOT Sports would like to carry the Sonics again.”