Mariners earned $7.2M operating profit in 2015

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Boosted by the highest attendance at Safeco Field since 2008, the Mariners recorded $7.2 million in profits for 2015, according to financial figures submitted to the Public Facilities District that oversees the ballpark's operation.

While Safeco Field attendance was the highest in seven years with 2.35 million fans turning out for the 81 home games, the Mariners' profits declined from the $11.6 million figure reported in 2014, in part because of a franchise-record player payroll of close to $130 million.

The Mariners are required to report their annual profit or loss to the PFD as part of the stadium lease agreement. The $7,203,000 operating profit for 2015 is the figure arrived at using generally accepted accounting principles.

The club's annual PFD report states that there has never been a distribution of team profits to individual members of the ownership group in any year since the current group purchased the team in 1992, as the resources have always been reinvested in the franchise and the ballpark.

Regarding the unique profit-sharing arrangement in the lease, there is a "special calculation" figure specifically created to determine when the Mariners will begin sharing profits with the PFD. That calculation is different than the net income/loss and turned out to be $11.8 million in 2015, down from $20 million the previous year.

When Safeco Field opened in 1999, Mariners ownership had lost $200 million the previous four years while playing in the Kingdome. The lease provides that each year's "special calculation" profit at Safeco Field be subtracted from the original $200 million figure, and once that number is erased, ownership will share 10 percent of any subsequent profits with the PFD.

The Mariners' cumulative net loss in that special calculation total is now down to $19,170,000. Once that number reaches zero, any future profits will be shared with the PFD prior to the lease's expiration in 2018.

The report also indicated that the club had player signing bonuses of $16.1 million as well as stadium capital expenditures of just over $4 million and non-ballpark capital expenditures of $911,000.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.