EVERETT — The Everett City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to further delay a decision on whether to pay consultants $1.1 million to take the first steps toward a new AquaSox stadium.
In light of new Major League Baseball requirements for minor league teams, the city is weighing three options: update the current stadium, demolish and rebuild Funko Field, or move to a new site. Last year, a report identified possible sites near Angel of the Winds Arena, the Everett Mall or Kasch Park.
It was pitched as a new 3,500-seat outdoor, multi-use stadium that would double as a baseball stadium and outdoor venue.
The council was set to make a decision on the contracts in the coming weeks. A deadline was not specified.
The city is considering two contracts:
• A $344,400 agreement with Shiels Obletz Johnsen Inc., a Seattle-based management firm, to get the ball rolling on the stadium project.
• A $807,421 agreement with Environmental Sciences Associates to perform an environmental impact evaluation of each site option.
What happened Wednesday?
Some council members felt they didn’t have enough information to make a decision Wednesday, questioning funding and timing.
One previous estimate from Mayor Cassie Franklin estimated the price tag of a new stadium at $80 million. This is in line with the cost of stadiums in the region of similar size.
“We can’t even afford this,” said council member Liz Vogeli, referring to the entire cost of a stadium.
However, Vogeli said it could be “beneficial” to use $7.4 million in state funds allocated by a state grant in March — the largest of 11 infrastructure grants around the state aimed to meet the new MLB standards.
City Council member Ben Zarlingo wanted to know more about how much each site could cost before investing more into the environmental impact studies.
“It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg situation,” Zarlingo said.
Scott Pattison, a project manager for Everett, alerted council members that a new or renovated stadium needs to be “well under way” by 2025. The AquaSox face a “six figure” fee for noncompliance with the standards by 2024, Chad Volpe, co-owner of the team, said at an earlier council meeting.
The MLB could continue to fine the team or “step in and take our franchise” if the deadline isn’t met, Pattison said Wednesday.
How did we get to this point?
In 2020, Major League Baseball upped stadium standards when the big leagues reformed its management of farm teams. Everett’s stadium required massive updates to meet those standards.
Additionally, the AquaSox were raised from a short season Single-A to a High-A team in 2021, increasing their season length and game frequency. The extended season overlapped with other games usually held at Funko Field, as it is owned by Everett Public Schools and doubles as a venue for school sports.
Those tensions put Everett at risk of losing the team, prompting the City Council to authorize a series of studies to get Everett up to par with new standards.