‘They’d be screwed’: Businesses could be displaced as Everett considers options to save AquaSox

EVERETT, Wash. — A number of small businesses could be forced out of their locations as the City of Everett considers several options to save its Minor League Baseball team, the AquaSox.


KIRO 7 News spoke with Scott Pattison, special projects manager with the City of Everett, who has been leading the AquaSox project since August of 2023.

The Minor League Baseball team currently plays at Funko Field, which is owned by Everett Public Schools, located near Broadway and 38th Street, about ¾ of a mile south of downtown Everett.

The field is shared by the school district and the professional team.

Pattison said the team’s field must be updated to align with Major League Baseball’s standards in order to keep the AquaSox in Everett.

“Those standards haven’t been totally shared with us. There’s a rubric that’s protected by Major League Baseball. And we don’t know all of them, but I do know some of the big ones,” he said.

Some of the key standards are the following, he said.

1. The team needs their own locker room.

2. The dugout needs to be updated.

3. The stands and field need to be updated to include safety measures.

“From home plate to center field, the field drops over 4 feet. Second base, it takes a big drop,” Pattison said.

7th Inning Stretch, the company that owns the AquaSox, will be fined every season until the field is aligned with MLB’s standards. The owner will be fined in 2024, Pattison shared.

Pattison told KIRO 7 News that he could not share the exact amount of the fine, but said it could be up to six figures.

Pattison said the City of Everett has four options to consider:

1. No action and likely lose the team.

2. Remodel the current field.

3. Tear down the field and build a new stadium in the same location.

4. Buy land in downtown Everett and build a new stadium.

The city has hired a consultant to perform a price analysis to remodel the current field. The results of the assessment are expected to be released in early April, Pattison told KIRO 7 News.

“As we rule option in or out, we’ll have a design then and we’ll have a financial plan for that,” he added.

However, option four is creating tension within the community, especially for business owners who work on the piece of land at the intersection of Hewitt Avenue and Broadway, which the city is considering to buy to build a new possible stadium.

KIRO 7 News asked Pattison if the city has already spoken with the property owner to possibly purchase the land.

He said the city must perform an environmental impact analysis of the property before it would move forward with a possible transaction.

We asked the city if it could purchase the property if the property owner(s) refuse to sell it.

“We could force the sale, if we had to. But we would come in at fair-market value and make a fair offer with the hope that they would sell it to us.” He added, “We don’t want to do that. We hope we could negotiate. We have had some conversations with a couple of the owners that are open to and willing to sell. I could tell you two of the largest buildings on the site are actually vacant. Arguably, the third largest is somebody we had contact with.”


KIRO 7 News spoke with a number of business owners to get their thoughts on the potential move.

“There’s a lot of businesses in this surrounding area that would be displaced,” said Easton Lemos, CEO of Life and Light. “They’d be screwed. It would put people in really a difficult situation.”

“On this entire block and down the street, you’re probably talking about 20 to 30 businesses that could potentially be displaced,” he continued to share.

Lemos learned about the city’s possible move last week after he told KIRO 7 News that he had received limited communication from the City of Everett.

“I was shocked. I mean, we were supposed to be here for another five years,” he shared. “Even our building owner didn’t know too much about it.”

“Nothing has really been communicated to the surrounding buildings and business owners,” he added.

Lemos started his business in 2016, and later moved into the building in 2019.

He stressed to KIRO 7 News about the importance of small businesses.

“It’s the lifeline of a lot of local economies. Small businesses make the world go round. Everett right now is a special place because a lot of small local businesses are moving to Everett to grow, to thrive here.” He added, “There’s a lot of other small business that live in this building.”

“There’s a lumber yard across the street. Finding a location to lease that has enough space for a lumber yard and a lumber operation would be extremely difficult. There’s a wholesale paper manufacturer, Everett Wholesale Paper. Them finding a similar building where they can have the same operation behind there, that would be extremely difficult,” he said.

KIRO 7 News also spoke with Donna Fuller, the store manager of the Everett Indoor Flea Market.

She said she initially felt “a little bit stressed because I like our store here.”

However, after speaking with the building owner, she said she became more excited about the move after he had offered her a possible new location up the street.

“I feel good about that, if we can move further up Hewitt because a lot of people don’t know we’re here. Everybody says ‘you’re on the wrong side of Hewitt.’ Most of the business happens two blocks up. There’s a lot more people walking and going to the stadium, so I feel like if we can move up the street, it would be better for us, for sales, for everybody in this store,” she said.

Fuller said her business suffered during the pandemic and she, along with her vendors, are still feeling the impact from the recovering economy.

“It was really affected. I feel like some of these people, this is all that they do. They’re retired and this is their money.” She added, “I would feel really good about that (possible move). I would feel really good about that and for the vendors. Because like I said, for some of them, this is their only income and they do pay rent here. After that rent and they don’t sell anything, it’s a hardship on them.”


KIRO 7 News shared the feedback and thoughts from small business owners with Pattison to get his response.

“We would do our absolute best to those who feel relocation will be hard or not successful. And we would work with them to help provide the best opportunities for them moving forward,” he said.

KIRO 7 News asked for more details on what the city’s support would look like, however, Pattison said he would have to meet with the businesses and let the economic impact analysis play out first.

The economic impact from Funko Field generates between $16 to 20 million, Pattison said.

“The downtown site is something we’re looking at because it shows that it’s probably four to five times that (Funko Field) impact. It could be as much as $80 million of economic impact,” he said. “Having a second stadium in Everett has pretty significant economic benefits.”

Pattison said the project has received support from the city’s mayor, city council, the county’s executive office, county council and from the governor’s office.

“We want to do what’s best for Everett. And we want to do what’s best for the people of Everett. And saving the AquaSox and keeping the AquaSox in Minor League Baseball in Everett seems like that’s a pretty important thing to not only the people of Everett, but to the community of Snohomish County.”

Pattison said he anticipates the city will present its proposal to city council around November.

KIRO 7 News reached out to the mayor’s office, Everett Public Schools and Everett City Council to get their thoughts.

KIRO 7 News reached out to the mayor’s office, Everett Public Schools and the Everett City Council to get their thoughts.

We’re still waiting to hear back.