Mariners get new ownership group and CEO as Nintendo sells majority stake to minority owners

SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners underwent a major shakeup at the highest level on Wednesday, as a group of minority owners announced it bought out Nintendo of America's controlling interest in the team, and part-owner John Stanton took over as chairman and CEO in place of longtime head Howard Lincoln.

"When (Hiroshi) Yamauchi purchased the team, it was with the idea to return to local ownership," Stanton said. "Today marks the opportunity to do that."

The deal includes a majority stake in both the Mariners and Root Sports Network, and the Mariners said the deal was for a valuation of $1.4 billion.

“I suppose a lot of you are wondering right now: ‘Who the heck is John Stanton?’” Stanton said.

Stanton said he was born  in Seattle and is a product of Bellevue Public Schools. He said he cried when the Seattle Pilots left town in 1969, and Lincoln introduced Stanton as a life-long baseball fan.

“John is one of the most widely respected businessmen in our state and across the country as well,” Lincoln said.

The new majority owners are a group called First Avenue Entertainment.

Nintendo, which has been a part of the Mariners’ ownership since 1992, will retain a 10 percent stake in the team. Lincoln will remain as a member of the board of directors, representing Nintendo’s interests.

“The No. 1 goal of this ownership group is to win a World Series,” Stanton said.