Nintendo has "no plans" to sell stake in Seattle Mariners

Following former president Hiroshi Yamauchi's death, chairman says company will not unload its majority stake in professional baseball team.


Nintendo of America has no plans to sell its majority stake in professional baseball team the Seattle Mariners. That's according to Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln, who also sits on the Nintendo of America board of directors.

The news comes after the death of former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi last week. Yamauchi was the majority owner of the club until 2004, when he transferred ownership to Nintendo of America.

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"There's always speculation in times like this," Lincoln told the Puget Sound Business Journal. "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 recently returned from a 10-day fishing trip to Alaska and was out of communication due to the remote location of the expedition. He did not know Yamauchi had died until late Thursday.

"I've known and worked for him (Yamauchi) for more than 30 years," Lincoln said. "More than 2,000 people came to his (memorial) in Japan on Saturday, I was told. He was a man of small stature and commanding presence. People liked him. I saw him in action in Japan and the United States, and he was always very warm. He was a visionary. We need to think about and never forget all he did for Seattle and for the Northwest."

Under Yamauchi's leadership, Nintendo diversified from its beginnings as a trading card company and introduced both gaming hardware, such as the NES, and arcade hits like Donkey Kong into market in the '80s. He also helped establish some of the development studios that would go on to create some of the industry's most enduring video game characters.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Yamauchi was also instrumental in keeping professional baseball alive in Seattle. He became the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners in 1992 before then-owner Jeff Smulyan was planning to sell the team to a group in Florida.

In 2004, Yamauchi transferred ownership of the Seattle Mariners to Nintendo of America, meaning he was no longer the official owner of the club. However, the paper points out that he was still considered the "titular owner," even after the transfer.

"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," Lincoln said.

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