News Article

Howard Lincoln: Nintendo Has "No Plans" to Sell Stake in Mariners MLB Team

Posted by Tim Latshaw

The late Hiroshi Yamauchi kept the team in Seattle

One of the many stories surrounding the remembrance of former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi is how he’s considered the saviour of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, taking a majority share of the organization in 1992 when its previous owner was about to sell it to a Florida group. Yamauchi’s influence on the team is so well regarded that the Mariners will be announcing a tribute to him at a home game.

Although Yamauchi transferred his share in the Mariners to Nintendo of America in 2004, questions have still been raised over whether his passing will change Nintendo’s interest in the team. But Howard Lincoln, CEO of the Mariners and a member of NoA’s board of directors, has told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the company intends to remain majority owner:

There’s always speculation in times like this. I think I can speak on behalf of Nintendo of America and say that Nintendo has no plans to sell its majority interest in the Mariners.

LIncoln also said he had been in touch with Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo’s managing director, who confirmed there are currently no plans to break Nintendo’s commitment to the team:

I can't tell you what’s going to happen in the future, but now Nintendo feels very strongly that Nintendo wants to maintain its ownership interest in the Mariners.

Yamauchi’s investment in the Mariners made a lot of fans happy and helped forge a regional bond with the Pacific Northwest. It arguably may not be the most important expenditure he ever made, but its impact is undeniable.

What do you think of Nintendo’s decision to hold on to the Mariners for the foreseeable future? Let us know below.

[via bizjournals.com, bizjournals.com, polygon.com]

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User Comments (33)

JustinH

#5

JustinH said:

Nintendo needs to put MLB.TV on the Wii U already. There's only one console that doesn't have it, and it's the only one that belongs to a MLB franchise holder. Figure that one out.

PvtOttobot

#6

PvtOttobot said:

@JustinH xD true dat! BTW what ever happened to nintendo TVii in Europe?!? That stupid, waste of space icon sits taunting me every day!

mch

#7

mch said:

thx for this interesting article.
I love Nintendo and I love the City of Seattle. I also did see like three to four Mariners games when I was there. I remember me cheering and yelling "Go Ichirō !!!" with some japanese friends. =)

JustinH

#8

JustinH said:

@PvtOttobot Let me be the one who breaks your heart — TVii is stupid and pointless. I had such high hopes for it, but there's really nothing to it. If you love sports, it's not bad, although it still doesn't have NHL support. If you live in the States, and you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, and you have cable or satellite, and a PVR, and you watch a lot of TV, it might be worth it to consolidate all your browsing. But that isn't me.

If the Wii U got a bunch more video apps — stuff like MLB.TV and Crunchyroll are the easy candidates — it could really be something. Right now it's essentially Miiverse for TV shows and a pretty neat second screen for sports. (Well, three sports anyway.)

PvtOttobot

#9

PvtOttobot said:

@JustinH Ah, I've heard as much. But they could at least stop pretending we are going to get it and replace the waste of RAM with Wii U chat or something!

ajcismo

#10

ajcismo said:

Funny I'm getting sports news on a gaming site before my usual stop by ESPN... but this story will get buried on most major sports sites anyways, so thank you for bringing this to light.
Most foreign readers won't care about news like this, but its important to us MLB fans that Nintendo stay as owners of the Seattle franchise. I'm a huge baseball fan, and this is great news for the people in the northwest US. It means stability and consistency for the franchise and Nintendo in Seattle.

Captain_Gonru

#12

Captain_Gonru said:

Good to hear.
On a related note, who else would love a new Nintendo-made baseball game? Not Mario Sluggers (though that would be cool, too), but a "real" baseball game, like the old Ken Griffey games.

FluttershyGuy

#13

FluttershyGuy said:

Now that that's settled, what are they going to do to return the Mariners to relevance. They've accomplished little on the field since setting a regular season wins record in the early 2000s. They failed to reach the World Series that year, and the franchise is one of only 2 or 3 never to play in the fall classic.

I'd like to see them make some big moves to contend for the AL West again. Because of their connection to Nintendo, I root for them secondarily to my Colorado Rockies.

Have to wonder if they may've eventually went to, and won the World Series if Griffey hadn't gone to Cincy.

Also, I'm glad Seattle won't have to worry about having another team stolen from them. I'm a Thunder fan, living in Oklahoma. Still, I know it was dirty how the Sonics were moved from Seattle.

Ryno

#14

Ryno said:

We in Seattle, wish Nintendo would sell the team to someone who actually gives a darn! Nintendo have been awful owners.

Senario

#15

Senario said:

@Ryno Wish granted, but they were sold to a city in a different state. Happy now? What more do they need to do to be "good owners"? I don't even know or care to know the owners of my local team as the players and coaches have more say in how well they do.

Ryno

#16

Ryno said:

@Senario: A good start to being good owners would be to help facilitate a decent team that at least comes close to making the playoffs sometime within the past 10 years.

FJOJR

#17

FJOJR said:

So I guess I'm paying Felix Hernandez's contract with each game I purchase. Can we at least get a decent MLB video game on a Nintendo console. Tired of 2K shoddy ports or lack thereof.

Skeletor

#18

Skeletor said:

@Captain_Gonru I remember years ago, Nintendo was supposed to release their own baseball sim. I believe they called it Pennant Chase Baseball. It was slated for the Gamecube. I remember that they progressed far enough that they had a cover athlete picked out. David Ortiz, of all people. I remember thinking it odd that it wasn't Ichiro.
That being said, I have been waiting for a LOOOOONNNG time for a proper baseball game on a Nintendo console. I only recently stopped playing MVP 2005, on account of me swapping my Wii for a Wii U, thus no Gamecube support.

Zodiak13

#19

Zodiak13 said:

I am glad my hometown Mariners are going to stay owned ny Nintendo. i also would love a good baseball game on the WiiU that is not a Mario version.

Senario

#20

Senario said:

@Ryno But that isn't the responsibility of the owners but rather the responsibility of the coaches and individual players. I don't blame the owners of my local football and baseball teams for them being lackluster teams. You have to remember that this is a competitive sport and that winning isn't so magical as snapping your fingers as the allmighty owners of a franchise. It is up to the coaches and the team members, not the owners.

Captain_Gonru

#22

Captain_Gonru said:

@Skeletor Oh I love me some MVP 2005. Its the only reason my PS2 is still hooked up. I don't remember Pennant Chase, sadly, though I remember Home Run Kings or something like that on GC. Had Houston's Jeff Bagwell on the cover.
But yeah, Nintendo, give us some baseball again.

WhiteTrashGuy

#24

WhiteTrashGuy said:

As an Oregonian I can vouch for how proud we are in the Northwest of NOA. It is a dream of mine to work there someday.

BulbasaurusRex

#25

BulbasaurusRex said:

@Skeletor Yep, I agree that Nintendo hasn't had a good baseball sim since MVP Baseball 2005 on GameCube. After that the MLBPA made a huge mistake in handing out an exclusive license contract to lousy 2K Sports.

Interestingly, the best baseball game on Wii with an MLB license (as far as I've found) is "Nicktoons MLB." It's pretty weird to team up real players like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina with the likes of Spongebob, Danny Phantom, Aang, and Katara in arcade-style gameplay, but somehow it works pretty well.

SethNintendo

#26

SethNintendo said:

@BulbasaurusRex,
You sure MLB handed out exclusive deal to 2k? Then why the hell is Sony making MLB The Show games still if they don't feature actual players? I am against exclusive deals (mainly because of EA and NFL/former NCAA exclusive deals but 2k is far better than most studious at producing sport games. I don't believe MLB has an exclusive deal with 2k. I'm about to google it. If I am wrong I will admit it.

edit - I looked it up...
"Take-Two Interactive signed an exclusive third-party licensing contract with Major League Baseball (MLB), MLBPA and MLBAM to produce MLB games. The agreement, which runs from Spring 2006 to 2012, allows for the console manufacturers Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to produce MLB titles for their respective platforms, but bars third party developers such as EA Sports from continuing or developing their own MLB games."

So third party companies were barred but didn't exclude first party companies so at least this isn't as a crap deal that EA has with NFL. So the deal didn't stop Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo from making a MLB game. 2K constantly schools EA in sports games. When was the last time you saw a NBA Live game? Only reason why EA can "compete" is through exclusive contracts.

Technosphile

#28

Technosphile said:

I live in Seattle.

Howard Lincoln should have been fired six years ago, and despite his "saving" them, the Mariners suffered under the absentee ownership of Hiroshi Yamauchi.

I wish they would be sold to a Seattle-area investor who actually cares about building a competitive, winning baseball team. For too long, the Mariners were treated as a profitable investment and nothing more by ownership. I was sad to hear about Mr. Yamauchi's death from a Nintendo fan standpoint, but I frankly had hoped it would mean a new, brighter future for the Seattle Mariners.

JJtheTexan

#29

JJtheTexan said:

As a Rangers fan, I am grateful Nintendo will continue to own the Mariners.

On another note, as mentioned above, would Nintendo PLEASE make another first-party MLB game? The Ken Griffey Jr. games were GREAT (mostly) and we sorely need a distinctive sports title for Wii U and 3DS!

Ryno

#30

Ryno said:

@Senario: That is fine if you think that a front office has no influence on the direction, scouting, and signing of talent of a professional sports team but I don't and @Technosphile agrees with me. We have seen what a bad ownership group Nintendo has been and we want them to sell to a local ownership group that will put an exciting product on the field. To you it doesn't matter who own's a team, teams must just get lucky that they have some talent on the team and become good.
In Seattle we have two drastically different ownership groups for our NFL and MLB teams. Our NFL team is a Super Bowl favorite led by an ownership and management group that cares about winning by drafting great talent (one of the youngest roster in the league) and will spend big money on free agents to put them over the top. Our MLB team hasn't sniffed the playoffs in the past ten years and has spent more time at he bottom of the league then even the middle.

@JJtheTexan: Ha, of course you are grateful Nintendo will continue to own the Mariners since they have done a terrible job and your Rangers use them for practice games.

Senario

#31

Senario said:

@Ryno So one person agrees with you and you are right huh? Honestly be careful what you wish for because if nintendo sold the property and it went to an out of state city how happy would you be? By your account they do not care about the team and consequently would not care about keeping it in your city. Teams do not get lucky but there is no reason that the ownership should automatically determine how good a team is. Sinking tons of money into these sports teams and still losing feels way too common. I do not take kindly to saying you accept my opinion then immediately say my argument means it is up to luck and talent. Hard work by the team and players will win games and it doesn't matter if you drop a ton of money since you still might lose. Money does not solve all problems.

Ryno

#32

Ryno said:

@Senario: Have you been following the Mariners and how bad they have been the past decade? Tell me, who knows how the Mariner's fan base feels; you or someone who is a actually Seattle sports fan like myself?

BulbasaurusRex

#33

BulbasaurusRex said:

@SethNintendo Maybe Take-Two does a better job than EA in the other sports but not baseball video games. Everyone here agrees that Take-Two has done a lousy job with its exclusive contract, and even before then their games were easily supassed by EA's "MVP Baseball" games.

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