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Originally published March 31, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Page modified March 31, 2012 at 9:00 PM

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Breaking down the Mariners' financial side

From attendance to cable TV revenue, there are factors off the field that affect the Mariners' success.

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You might only care about wins and losses, but money drives the baseball engine. Whether the M's can get back into the game's elite depends on a lot of things — including TV revenues, attendance and the price of their players.

Attendance

The Mariners enjoyed stellar ticket sales after Safeco Field opened in 1999, with 3 million-plus fans for four straight seasons through 2003. But attendance has since fallen from nearly 3.3 million in 2003 to less than 1.9 million last year.

Youth movement

11 — Number of players on the roster this season making at least $1 million. Last season, the number was 14.

Profits

Former Nintendo Corp. chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi owns 55 percent of the team. He was worth an estimated $7.8 billion in early 2008 but the economic crash saw him lose nearly 70 percent of his fortune since 2008. Meanwhile, Chris Larson, whose 30.6 percent stake in the team is his single biggest asset, is dealing with personal financial issues.

TV deal

The Mariners' 10-year, $450 million TV deal with ROOT Sports sounds like a lot, but take a look around. The recent explosion of cable agreements using "Regional Sports Networks" include reported 20-year, $3 billion deals for the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers — the M's division rivals.

Payroll

The Mariners spent more than $117 million on opening day payroll in 2008 — and lost 101 games, becoming the first team to earn the distinction of spending more than $100 million and suffering more than 100 losses in a season. Ownership has not been willing to put its own cash into payroll, but rather has been reducing payroll in recent years to try to match revenues produced by a losing club. See MLB salaries by team in a USA Today database.

Seattle Times staff

Illustrations by David Miller / The Seattle Times

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