The Seattle Mariners like to say that their fans are “True to the Blue,” but the new look and some of the amenities at T-Mobile Park, the team’s newly named hometown stadium, could lead people’s allegiances to take on a magenta hue. T-Mobile, the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier, took over naming rights during the offseason for what had been Safeco Field for 20 years. Next Thursday, fans will enter T-Mobile Park for the first time for the Mariners home opener. GeekWire got an inside look on Wednesday, as workers busily hung new signage, painted, prepped a preview menu and tended to the grounds. Giant pink and white T-Mobile Park signs are now hung above the home plate entrance (above the statue of Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr.) and elsewhere. But the sign T-Mobile customers will want to look for is on the left field side of the stadium, along South Royal Brougham Way. At the T-Mobile Customer Entrance, the carrier’s customers will gain fast-track entry through a gate with magenta accents — all they have to do is show the attendant their phone. Gimme a P A R K. New T-Mobile signage gets lifted into place on Wednesday in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) The special entrance at T-Mobile Park, which allows faster access for customers of the wireless carrier. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) The ability to to use fast track and avoid the lines at other gates — presumably full of AT&T and Verizon customers? — is good for any event at the ballpark and is a practice that T-Mobile also employs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Once inside that particular gate, fans will be in close proximity to The ‘Pen, Powered by T-Mobile. The reimagined experience near the bullpen behind the left field wall and wrapping around behind center field, is probably where guests will see the most magenta. Steel support beams were being painted magenta on Wednesday and will serve as indicators of where mobile charging stations are located. Each beam will have 32 outlets. Fans trying to use their phones, at least if they’r eon T-Mobile, will also see benefits. “In regard to coverage, we’ve increased capacity in and around T-Mobile Park by three times,” said Krystal McIntosh of T-Mobile. “So there should be no problems uploading, streaming, showing all of your Instagram stories when you’re here at the game.” Magenta signage points the way down to The ‘Pen where fans can watch a pitcher warm up or explore more food and drink options. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) A painter turns a green beam magenta to highlight the location of wireless charging stations at T-Mobile Park. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) T-Mobile also had an interactive Home Run Challenge set up on the plaza beyond center field in which fans are invited to step up to the plate and hit a ball off a tee into a screen. The animation — which makes it look like you’re hitting the ball toward the Space Needle — tracks the power of your drive. And, because it all ties back to T-Mobile, the challenge lets you hit in 4G and 5G settings. I hit four balls on Wednesday and in 4G they were weak grounders back toward the infield and in 5G I hit towering home runs. T-Mobile’s Tech Experience will also extend outside the ballpark, at least through opening day, as the company is taking over the corner of Edgar Martinez Drive South and 1st Avenue South, next to Henry’s Tavern. And T-Mobile Tuesdays, in which customers already get free stuff and deals as a gesture of appreciation, will extend to T-Mobile Park when the Mariners play at home on that day of the week. GeekWire’s Kurt Schlosser takes the Home Run Challenge at T-Mobile Park. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) A “Welcome to T-Mobile Park” sign is attached below the press box behind home plate. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) T-Mobile didn’t just get into the game when it decided to go after naming rights in Seattle. The company was already a sponsor of Major League Baseball, and just extended that deal another four years. , T-Mobile continues to be the Official Wireless Sponsor of MLB, as well as the title sponsor of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby during All-Star Week. Customers can also get a free full season of MLB.TV through their T-Mobile Tuesday app from March 26 through April 1. Elsewhere in The ‘Pen, where Seattle hip-hop star Macklemore will perform on Thursday before the game against the Boston Red Sox, fans can get their hands on a new signature cocktail called the Magenta Mojo. T-Mobile partnered with the Mariners and enlisted of Seattle’s Rob Roy to come up with the drink, which of course is just the right color for the new park. Built to be refreshing and “disruptively light,” Apte said the drink will help fans “stay in that good-sportsmanship mood.” It will sell for $12.50, and if you want a blinking magenta ice cube tossed in, the price jumps to $15.50. The Mariners and T-Mobile also hosted a menu preview to show off new vendors and food items that will be available at various points around the park. Crowd Cow co-founder Joe Heitzeberg grabs a burger featuring his company’s beef during a menu tasting at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) The Grand Salami Sandwich is a tribute to Fave Niehaus, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Mariners. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Seattle chef and restaurateur Ethan Stowell is a partner with the Mariners and he was on hand Wednesday, as was a new burger with his name on it, featuring a hyper-local beef patty from , the Seattle-based startup and online marketplace for quality beef products. We also sampled bites from burger chain Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken and Paseo. And the tastiest fare may have been the new Grand Salami Sandwich, a tribute to beloved Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus that will be available at the ballpark’s Sultan of Sandwich. Speaking of food, we did ask whether T-Mobile CEO John Legere would show up at the park to host an episode of his weekly show in which he plugs his company and shares a cock pot recipe. There will be at least one, we were told. Old Safeco Field signage is ready to be taken away on the mezzanine at T-Mobile Park. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Meanwhile, as the smell of burgers and fresh magenta paint filled the air, signs of the old Safeco Field — including some signs — were still visible around the ballpark as workers scurried to get the name change in place before the team returns next week. Trash cans along the mezzanine still had the Safeco logo. Other directional signs marking seat sections and so forth had been removed but not yet been carted away. But above the stands in left field, on a sunny and warm day that definitely felt like baseball weather, the iconic clock tower sign, with Seattle’s skyline rising behind it, had been changed to T-Mobile Park. The time had come.
Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory plan to employ quantum computing to develop new materials for chemical applications. (Microsoft Azure via YouTube) Experts in the weird and woolly field of quantum computing tend to concentrate on one slice of the challenge, whether it’s developing hardware, algorithms or applications — but in the region that’s home to Microsoft and Amazon, the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a new consortium is going after the whole stack. We’re not talking about pancakes or sandwiches here. We’re talking about the, which is aiming to widen a network of quantum connections for researchers, developers and business leaders. The group, led by Microsoft Quantum, PNNL and UW, was in advance of its inaugural summit this week at the university. Quantum computing goes in a direction that’s different from the classical computing techniques that have ruled the tech world for decades. In contrast to the on-or-off, one-or-zero bits of today’s digital computers, tomorrow’s quantum computers juggle fuzzy “qubits” that can be one-and-zero simultaneously until the result is read out. Researchers say the technique could potentially crack types of problems that classical computers couldn’t touch, even if they ran their algorithms for the lifetime of the universe. Over the next five years, the field will be getting a $1.2 billion boost in federal funding, thanks to the . And that flood of funding and attention is energizing computer scientists across the country. The Northwest Quantum Nexus aims to build a cluster for quantum research and development in Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia that’s analogous to the Midwest’s , the Boston area’s or . “We have a nice juxtaposition of all the same ingredients for quantum expertise as well as all of the ingredients that make this a real hotbed for the tech industry,” , director of PNNL’s Advanced Computing, Mathematics and Data Division, told GeekWire last week. “Together, that’s a perfect storm for making this thing feasible.” , general manager of in Redmond, Wash., said the Nexus has a “unique focus.” “Other centers are focusing on different aspects of quantum information science,” she said. “If you think of the stack for a quantum computer, we have algorithms and software at the top, then we have materials and the qubit design at the bottom. What we’re doing with the Nexus is that sandwich. We’re focusing on the sandwich elements to drive development on the other aspects, to drive scalability and accelerate the field.” Although the Northwest Quantum Nexus is just getting started, the Pacific Northwest has been a nexus for quantum information science for a long time. at its Redmond headquarters, and it’s . Just this month, the company to forge connections with startups and developers who are dialed into the Q# programming language and Microsoft’s . The Nexus and the Network provide complementary channels for building the infrastructure for quantum computing. PNNL, meanwhile, has been working to apply quantum computing principles to the development of exotic materials. Those efforts take advantage of computational chemistry tools such as the . Last year, for a quantum computing chemistry project. The University of Washington has a whole range of research areas that can take advantage of quantum principles, ranging from the purely theoretical to applied engineering. The different threads of research have recently been knit together into an initiative called . The University of Washington’s Kai-Mei Fu, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Nathan Baker and Microsoft’s Krysta Svore are among the organizers of the Northwest Quantum Nexus. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) All three keystone partners see the Nexus as a way to kick things up a notch by expanding public-private partnerships. “We’re not going to be able to address these research questions without multidisciplinary teams,” Baker said. “So some of what the Nexus needs to be doing is making connections. As a region, we want to be able to make it easier for the members of those multidisciplinary teams to find each other, find research problems, find opportunities and go after them.” For example, UW offered its first undergraduate-level class in quantum computing this quarter, with Microsoft computer scientists doing the teaching. , a UW associate professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering who’s also the co-chair of QuantumX, sees signs of a “whole paradigm shift in education.” “Most computer science departments don’t have people working in quantum information, and that has to change,” she said. “We need the brightest minds working in the field to take full advantage of the ‘quantum advantage.’ ” One of the best-known applications for quantum computing is in the security realm, either to crack encryption codes or to open the way for new methods of secure communications. That angle has gotten a lot of attention from the and from a . But Svore said the Nexus is focusing on other applications. “We don’t believe that the big commercial application is to go break codes, right?” she said. “We believe the big applications are to bring forward quantum solutions for businesses, quantum solutions for…” “… Materials science,” Fu said. “… Better batteries,” Baker added. “That’s the area,” Svore said. “Another unique focus for the Nexus is sustainability, , better materials. …” “Very Northwest,” Fu chimed in. “Yeah,” said Svore, laughing.