The AquaSox have the bases load in the first inning against the Vancouver Canadians Tuesday evening at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett June 29th, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The AquaSox have the bases load in the first inning against the Vancouver Canadians Tuesday evening at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett June 29th, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett faces June deadline to present AquaSox stadium plan

“My site preference is where we secure AquaSox baseball for the next 30, 40, 50 years,” the team’s co-owner Chad Volpe said.

EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox have two months to present plans for an upgraded stadium or face monetary penalties.

By June, Major League Baseball wants to see plans to either rebuild or construct a new baseball stadium, as well as where the money would come from, AquaSox co-owner Chad Volpe said in an interview Monday.

It’s unclear what exactly would happen if Everett misses the deadline, Volpe said. It’s likely the team could be required to pay a six-figure fee for every season it isn’t compliant with stadium standards, Volpe said.

He added that the Seattle Mariners are a “willing partner” and want the High-A minor league team to stay in Everett — about 30 miles north of the big league team’s T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

“Worst-case scenario, we incur another significant fine, like we already have,” Volpe said at a public meeting last week. “At one point we sort of view that as the cost of doing business to make sure we stay here for the next 30 to 50 years. And if you amortize that fine over a period of time, it makes economic sense. At least that’s how we justify it.”

Everett has already spent over two years and more than $1.1 million looking into a new stadium. This still doesn’t secure the AquaSox’s place in the city for the next few decades, despite the team’s desire to stay.

“Would there be a point where, for us or any other team, they say, ‘You’re going to lose the team?’” Volpe said. “Yeah, probably. When that is? I have no idea. No one has any idea, so it’s just tough to say.”

Could Everett be in real danger of losing the AquaSox?

“In my personal opinion, yes,” Volpe said.

‘Is it ideal timing?’

In 2020, Major League Baseball took over and restructured the minor leagues, upping stadium requirements. Funko Field, the current home of the AquaSox, falls far below those benchmarks.

MLB has a rubric for its new standards. Points are assigned based on anything from dugouts to locker rooms and clubhouses. Much like an earned run average, a higher number is worse. Funko Field has 110 points. It needs to be under 10 points by Opening Day 2025, Volpe said.

The city is exploring three options to meet the new requirements: Remodel Funko Field; demolish and rebuild on the current Funko Field site; or build a new stadium near downtown, just east of Angel of the Winds Arena.

If no action is taken, the city could lose the team.

Building or upgrading the stadium could cost $40 to $80 million, according to an estimate in November from Shiels Obletz Johnsen, the developers the city hired to spearhead the project.

Updated estimates for a Funko Field remodel and a new stadium downtown could be available in April, city Project Manager Scott Pattinson said at a stadium fiscal advisory committee meeting last week.

A state-mandated environmental impact study for both sites is underway and set to finish in November. The “bulk” of the study should be done by August, Pattinson said. Site selection could come as early as this summer, city officials have said in the past.

The AquaSox learned of the June deadline in January. Last week was the first time Volpe mentioned it in a public meeting.

MLB is “very serious” about the deadline, but the league has also been accommodating in the past, Volpe said.

“Is it ideal timing? No, certainly not,” Volpe said. “But at some point I can see where MLB and the Mariners looking at not just us, but other teams, and saying: ‘We’ve been flexible. We’ve given you time but we need to start putting in deadlines and having repercussions if you don’t hit those.’”

So is a June deadline realistic?

“Our goal has been, and continues to be, meeting the June deadline,” city spokesperson Simone Tarver said in an email. “The work of the fiscal advisory committee is already underway, and our $7.4 million state funding was locked in during the last legislative session. We continue to work with team ownership and other key partners to evaluate our options and determine the best path forward.”

‘My site preference’

A June 2023 study ranked the downtown site as the strongest contender for a new AquaSox stadium.

The study, paid for by the AquaSox, compared the site options using a point system. The downtown site came in with 231 points, while Funko Field scored 155. Much like runs batted in, a higher number is better.

The site options were scored on parking, size, existing infrastructure, utilities, environmental impacts, site readiness and property ownership, among other factors.

Volpe didn’t disclose his personal preference between the two sites.

“My site preference is where we secure AquaSox baseball for the next 30, 40, 50 years, and I can eventually retire and my kids can take over the family business,” he told The Daily Herald.

At the committee meeting, Pattinson outlined a potential funding plan for the stadium. The advisory committee’s role is to help finalize a plan and present it to the City Council for a vote.

Everett already has $7.4 million from the state for the project.

The AquaSox also pledged between $5 to $10 million.

The county agreed to commit an undisclosed amount, with a conservative estimate of $5 million in city documents.

Other potential funding streams were under review by the committee, with the following estimated revenues:

• $35 million through a business and occupation tax increase.

• $10 million through the sale of undisclosed “city assets.”

• $10 million through a “Tax Increment Financing” increase in property taxes, to reflect an increase in assessed home values — since the stadium “could be promoted as a significant catalyst for development.”

• $5 million in “corporate contribution.”

• $5 million in park impact fees, though that would only work for the downtown site, and a draft report notes a number of caveats, including: “TBD if qualified.”

• $3.5 to 6 million in real estate excise taxes.

Opening Day 2027

The downtown site sits west of I-5, on the block between Hewitt, Broadway and Pacific avenues. This site ranked high in proximity to other amenities, such as Angel of the Winds Arena, and restaurants and bars downtown. Nearby public transit, including the future light rail station set to open in 2037, also boosted its rating.

However, this site’s weaknesses lie mostly in property ownership. The city would need to acquire and demolish up to 20 businesses located on that block.

The 2023 study estimated the property alone would cost about $18 million.

Funko Field, owned by Everett Public Schools, has the opposite issue. The district leases the stadium to the AquaSox and it doubles as a venue for school sports. The property is already secured and has the sewer lines and storm drainage systems needed for a stadium.

However, this is the smaller site. The 7-acre plot would leave barely enough room to build a new stadium, and almost no room to expand the stadium if needed in the future. This also wouldn’t resolve the schedule overlap between the AquaSox and school sports.

If all goes to the developer’s projected plan, an upgraded AquaSox stadium could be ready by Opening Day 2027, whether at Funko Field or downtown.

The AquaSox play their first home game of this season April 9, against the Eugene Emeralds — a team also facing an uncertain future due to MLB’s updated stadium standards.

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized a response from city spokesperson Simone Tarver.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Alan Edward Dean, convicted of the 1993 murder of Melissa Lee, professes his innocence in the courtroom during his sentencing Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Bothell man gets 26 years in cold case murder of Melissa Lee, 15

“I’m innocent, not guilty. … They planted that DNA. I’ve been framed,” said Alan Edward Dean, as he was sentenced for the 1993 murder.

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2020. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, that it took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December and finished 2022 with its best year since 2018, which was before two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jet and a pandemic that choked off demand for new planes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing’s $3.9B cash burn adds urgency to revival plan

Boeing’s first three months of the year have been overshadowed by the fallout from a near-catastrophic incident in January.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Bail set at $2M in wrong-way crash that killed Lynnwood woman, 83

The Kenmore man, 37, fled police, crashed into a GMC Yukon and killed Trudy Slanger on Highway 525, according to court papers.

A voter turns in a ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, outside the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On fourth try, Arlington Heights voters overwhelmingly pass fire levy

Meanwhile, in another ballot that gave North County voters deja vu, Lakewood voters appeared to pass two levies for school funding.

Judge Whitney Rivera, who begins her appointment to Snohomish County Superior Court in May, stands in the Edmonds Municipal Court on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge thought her clerk ‘needed more challenge’; now, she’s her successor

Whitney Rivera will be the first judge of Pacific Islander descent to serve on the Snohomish County Superior Court bench.

In this Jan. 4, 2019 photo, workers and other officials gather outside the Sky Valley Education Center school in Monroe, Wash., before going inside to collect samples for testing. The samples were tested for PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as dioxins and furans. A lawsuit filed on behalf of several families and teachers claims that officials failed to adequately respond to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the school. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge halves $784M for women exposed to Monsanto chemicals at Monroe school

Monsanto lawyers argued “arbitrary and excessive” damages in the Sky Valley Education Center case “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Officers respond to a ferry traffic disturbance Tuesday after a woman in a motorhome threatened to drive off the dock, authorities said. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Police Department)
Everett woman disrupts ferry, threatens to drive motorhome into water

Police arrested the woman at the Mukilteo ferry terminal Tuesday morning after using pepper-ball rounds to get her out.

Man gets 75 years for terrorizing exes in Bothell, Mukilteo

In 2021, Joseph Sims broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bothell and assaulted her. He went on a crime spree from there.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.