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Originally published Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Mariners expect Safeco Field's name will not be changed

Seattle Mariners officials said Wednesday they don't expect Safeco Field's name to change "in the foreseeable future" despite the acquisition...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle Mariners officials said Wednesday they don't expect Safeco Field's name to change "in the foreseeable future" despite the acquisition of Safeco by Liberty Mutual Group.

When the Mariners opened their new ballpark in 1999, Safeco landed the naming rights in what is believed to be a 20-year, $40 million deal.

"We've been told there won't be any immediate impact on the ballpark or us, and they're not planning on changing the name in the foreseeable future," said Rebecca Hale, the Mariners' director of public information.

Safeco spokesman Dave Monfried told The Associated Press there were no plans to change Safeco Field's name.

Hale said Mariners attorneys are going through the naming-rights contract with Safeco to ascertain the ramifications "in case down the road they want a name change."

Many baseball stadiums have undergone name changes for various reasons, including acquisitions.

The San Francisco Giants have changed the name of their ballpark twice since it opened in 2000, from Pacific Bell Park to SBC Park in 2004 when Pac Bell sold to SBC. When SBC purchased AT&T, the ballpark became AT&T Park in 2006 because the company deemed AT&T a more prominent brand name.

Other teams that have changed the corporate name of their stadiums include the Arizona Diamondbacks (from Bank One Ballpark to Chase Field), the Houston Astros (from Enron Field to Minute Maid Park), and the Oakland A's (from Network Associates Coliseum to McAfee Coliseum).

Rob Vogel, president of the Bonham Group, a Denver-based sports- and entertainment-marketing firm that has done extensive work in naming rights, said that the pertinent issue is whether Liberty Mutual will keep the Safeco brand.

"If they are keeping the Safeco name, then the name of the stadium probably wouldn't change," Vogel said in a telephone interview. "If the Safeco name is going away, it would be likely they would change the stadium name.

"That's a common thing — the acquiring company rebrands the ballpark."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com. Information from The Associated Press is included in this article.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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