Funko Field on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Funko Field on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

New AquaSox stadium downtown could cost up to $120M

That’s $40 million more than an earlier estimate. Alternatively, remodeling Funko Field could cost nearly $70 million.

EVERETT — A new AquaSox stadium downtown could cost up to $120 million, while a remodel of Funko Field could cost nearly $70 million, according to new studies funded by the city and team ownership.

Early last year, a contractor estimated a new downtown stadium would be in the range of $40 million to $80 million.

While more expensive to build, the proposed downtown location at Hewitt Avenue and Broadway could generate four times the revenue, compared to the current Funko Field site a mile south, said city Economic Development Director Dan Eernissee at an AquaSox stadium fiscal advisory committee meeting Wednesday.

The city estimates a downtown location — near Angel of the Winds Arena, the city’s commercial core and Everett Station — would generate about $55 million in revenue annually, Eernissee said. In 2022, Funko Field generated $12.1 million. Numbers for the 2023 season weren’t yet available, but are likely higher than 2022 revenues, he added.

“We can do so much more with a brand new stadium,” Eernissee said. “From the start, we’ve been calling it the multi-purpose outdoor facility, which is really accurate for the downtown site. Not as accurate for the Funko Field site.”

The city is looking at three options for an upgraded AquaSox stadium, in light of new Major League Baseball stadium requirements for the minor leagues introduced in 2020:

• Remodel Funko Field;

• Tear down and rebuild on the same site; or

• Build a new stadium downtown.

The new requirements came as a massive minor league reshuffle moved Everett from Short Season-A with 76 regular season games to High-A, where the team plays roughly double the games, from April to September.

Studies into the cost of each option were over 90% complete as of this week, said Scott Pattison, a project manager for the city. The city is waiting to finalize a few more details with the companies conducting the studies before releasing the final numbers.

So far, the studies suggest remodeling Funko Field makes more sense than demolishing the stadium at 3900 Broadway and building a new one.

If significant progress isn’t made on a new stadium by June, the team could face fines and Everett could be at risk of losing the AquaSox, team co-owner Chad Volpe said Wednesday.

“We’ve got that June deadline which we talked about in the first meeting, which was MLB effectively saying to us, ‘We need to see what your plan is by June 1. We’ve been accommodating. We’ve worked with you. You’ve missed two deadlines, but sort of enough is enough and we need to see real progress or we’re going to resort to much more draconian measures,’” Volpe said.

MLB ranks each minor league stadium on a point system. Funko Field needs to be under 10 points by Opening Day 2025. It currently sits at 110 points, Volpe said Wednesday.

In 2022, the city got to work on a plan to keep the AquaSox in Everett. So far, Everett has spent over $1.1 million on the project.

There are two options for a Funko Field remodel, Pattison said.

One option would leave the footprint of the actual baseball field as is, but add new structures along left and right field, Pattison said. The dugouts would be renovated and new seating would be added as well. This option would likely cost $60 million or more.

In the other scenario, the field would mostly stay the same, aside from expanding to the property on the north side of the field along Broadway, and adding a new building where the current AquaSox offices are. That option is expected to cost around $65 million to $68 million.

Volpe said the team would invest more money into a downtown location, since it would have a greater economic benefit for the team over time.

The AquaSox pledged between $5 to $10 million for the project. The $10 million figure is more likely for the downtown location, Volpe said.

A new stadium downtown could increase game attendance by 25%, Volpe estimated. More amenities would also help keep attendance up, he said.

Currently, the only funding secured for the stadium is $7.4 million from the state.

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

There’s a “strong possibility” the city could sell $10 million to $20 million in city assets to help fund the stadium, Pattison said. He didn’t specify which assets would be sold and said that was all he could say on the matter as of Wednesday.

Given the high cost estimate of the downtown site, Eernissee said the city likely wouldn’t buy buildings sitting at Broadway and Hewitt. Doing so would increase the cost by around $20 million.

“We don’t want to touch the Hewitt-and-Broadway properties if at all possible,” Eernissee said.

In earlier studies, the city looked at the possibility of purchasing and demolishing around 20 businesses in the blocks between Broadway, Hewitt and Pacific Avenue. One proposed version of a downtown site included the demolition of properties on Hewitt and Broadway. The other did not.

One study pondered the city buying the properties and demolishing them to make way for greenspace, a walkway or room to expand the stadium if needed in the future.

But Eernessee said the city is leaning away from that option.

“We’re not putting all these mom-and-pop businesses out of business,” Eernissee said.

At a public meeting in February, a few business owners said the city didn’t notify businesses it was studying the possibility of removing buildings.

Downtown businesses would benefit from increased foot traffic, Pattison said. The current Funko Field location doesn’t generate much foot traffic for neighboring restaurants and shopping plazas.

A downtown location is also more likely to activate downtown Everett all year long. In winter, downtown sees more traffic for Silvertips hockey games. And a new stadium would keep a steady flow of people through spring and summer.

A new stadium could also be used as an outdoor, multi-purpose venue, for anything from concerts to motocross, Pattison and Volpe said.

Parts of a downtown stadium could also be turned into a public park, qualifying the city for green space grants, Pattison said, adding that charging for parking could also be a “really good” way to fund stadium operations. The downtown site could provide about 400 parking spaces.

Funko Field is owned by Everett Public Schools and the field doubles as a venue for high school sports. The AquaSox’s promotion to High-A meant better talent on the team and a longer season. It also led to schedule clashes between the AquaSox and high school games.

It’s unclear whether a remodel at Funko Field would address scheduling conflicts. However, Volpe said potential construction at Funko Field wouldn’t interrupt AquaSox or high school games — which may give some fans flashbacks of Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. taking batting practice in Safeco Field while it was still under construction.

“They might be playing in a construction site,” Volpe said, “but they wouldn’t be displaced.”

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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