The Mariners made it official Friday, announcing the promotion of Kevin Mather, the club’s executive vice-president of finance and ballpark operations, to team president, replacing the retiring Chuck Armstrong. At the same time, the Mariners named Bob Aylward chairman of the board of NW Sports Net, LLC, or Root Sports Northwest, the regional sports network. Both promotions were made by CEO Howard Lincoln.
“Kevin and Bob have been very valuable executives of the Mariners,” said Lincoln. “They are both extremely talented, experienced and well-qualified to lead our organization into the future. There will be a seamless transition as Chuck begins his retirement one week from today.”
Mather, whose promotion was first reported by Geoff Baker in The Seattle Times, has been part of the organization since 1996 and executive vice president of finance and ballpark operations since 1999. Aylward will retain his responsibilities as the club’s executive vice president of business operations. Both report directly to Lincoln.
For weeks, the Mariners reportedly had an interest in filling Armstrong’s job with a candidate who had a strong baseball background. Former manager Tony La Russa was mentioned most often. Instead, the new club president will be a man whose background is in accounting and risk/insurance.
Mather’s most recent responsibilities included accounting and financial reporting, ticket and technology services, concessions, and the day-to-day operations of Safeco Field. He also oversaw the Mariners’ five team stores, as well as non-baseball events at the ballpark.
In 2006, the Puget Sound Business Journal recognized Mather as a nominee for CFO of the Year.
Mather came to the Mariners after serving as VP of finance for the Minnesota Twins for more than four years. Before his career in baseball, Mather was with the certified public accounting firm of Delotte, Haskins & Sells.
“His (Mather) experience in the game of baseball has prepared him well for this position,” Lincoln said. “He is highly thought of around Major League Baseball and in this community. He will work closely with me to make sure Jack Zduriencik has the resources he needs to build winning teams. Jack remains the leader of the baseball side of our organization.”
Mather is a native of Madison, WI., and a 1984 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he received a degree in accounting.
“Our fans, first and foremost, are our focus, and we understand what they want most – a championship team,” said Mather, 51. “I am looking forward to supporting Jack Zduriencik as he continues to lead the baseball operation and builds the Mariners both for 2014 and for future seasons. At the same time, our commitment to this community and this region will remain a top priority. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m excited about the Mariners future.”
Aylward joined the Mariners in June, 1997 as VP of business and sales. He is responsible for the club’s revenue-producing efforts, including corporate sponsorships. Prior to joining the Mariners, Aylward, a Vanderbilt graduate, served as a business consultant to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The Mariners own a majority stake in Root Sports Northwest, an extremely important part of our franchise’s future,” said Lincoln. “Bob was instrumental in the Mariners acquisition of the regional sports network and will lead the network into the future. He will continue in his position as the Mariners EVP of business operations, and he is one of the very best in baseball.”
“The club’s business operations and Root are integral to the future of the franchise, and I appreciate the opportunity to direct both groups,” said the 60-year-old Aylward, a native of Pace, MS.