Nintendo today announced it has completed the sale of its majority stake in the Seattle Mariners baseball club, netting $661 million.
The deal's closure brings to an end nearly a quarter-century of Nintendo ownership and administration that saved the Mariners from relocating to another city. The late Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former president of Nintendo, bought the team in 1992 for $125 million, calling it a goodwill gesture to the city of Seattle; Nintendo of America is based in the Seattle suburb of Redmond.
Under the sale, which was announced at the end of April, Nintendo retains a 10 percent stake in the club's ownership group. But Howard Lincoln, the former chairman of Nintendo of America, steps down as the Mariners' chairman and CEO after 17 years.
A notice from Nintendo told investors that "it will take some time to calculate and confirm the impact of this sale" to Nintendo's performance. When that's been determined, investors will be advised accordingly.
The Mariners were the first Major League Baseball team with non-North American ownership. Yamauchi's bid to buy the team was initially opposed by the league, which imposed and later relaxed restrictions on the amount of stock he could own in the team. He transferred his stake to Nintendo of America in 2004.
Yamauchi's purchase likely saved the Mariners from a move to St. Petersburg, Fla. Under Yamauchi and Nintendo's ownership, and with no threat to move, the Washington state legislature passed the funding bill that created Safeco Field, where the Mariners play today.
When Yamauchi died in 2013, Bud Selig, then the commissioner of Major League Baseball, lauded him for playing a pivotal role in both the franchise's history, and baseball's history in the Pacific Northwest.
The Mariners are currently 66-57, second place in the American League West division, and one game behind Baltimore for a wild-card playoff spot. The club has not made MLB's postseason since winning a league-record 116 games in 2001.