Washington St. plays opener in remodeled stadium
Fans attending the Washington State-California game Saturday in Pullman will see improvements to Martin Stadium, both utilitarian and cosmetic. Phases 1 and 2 of the renovation, worth $27 million, are virtually complete. They include addition of restrooms on three sides of the stadium, as well as a brick facade, greater concourse space and a $2.5-million scoreboard.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Cal @ WSU, 3:30 p.m., FSN
In a telling juxtaposition, Washington State shows off the progress on its football-stadium expansion Saturday in its home opener, just a week after playing Oklahoma State, which doesn't worry about who's writing the check for things like that.
That would be energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, who is quoted in the OSU media guide: "I firmly believe one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to make money."
If there's anybody in WSU's financial family who thinks similarly, he hasn't declared himself to the Cougars. So their expansion of Martin Stadium is a brick-by-brick, step-by-step process, rather than the sort of donation for which Pickens and Oklahoma State are famous.
Fans attending the WSU-California game in Pullman will see improvements, both utilitarian and cosmetic. Phases 1 and 2 of the renovation, worth $27 million, are virtually complete. They include addition of restrooms on three sides of the stadium, as well as a brick facade, greater concourse space and a $2.5-million scoreboard.
"There are some little things that won't get done [before Saturday]," said athletic director Jim Sterk, "but functionally, it'll be ready to go."
If WSU officials' optimism is well-placed, they'll have something grander to show off in two years. Phase 3 is construction of luxury suites, loge boxes and club seats above the north (student-side) section, adding some 2,200 seats.
The seats themselves are secondary to the revenue possibilities from the expansion.
The 18 luxury suites are priced at $35,000 to $50,000 annually. Loge boxes — clusters of four or six semiprivate seats — are $9,000 to $15,000 a year. Club seats will be $1,700 to $2,000 annually.
Sterk and associate athletic director John Johnson say they have committed or solid interest to fill all three levels, including 30 parties that have expressed intentions or interest in the luxury suites.
"It's going to happen; it's just when," said Sterk, adding that WSU has $16 million in gifts and pledges for that phase.
Added Johnson, the chief fundraiser for the project: "I feel pretty good at where we're at. We have a way to go, but it's not years, it's months."
Design work is close to being finalized for Phase 3. Meanwhile, it's obvious that WSU isn't shy about getting the word out to recruits who might be playing most of their college days in that facility.
The WSU media guide includes details and mock-up drawings. Coach Paul Wulff and his staff have been using the expansion as a selling point to prospects in what appears to be a more productive effort, at least early, than in recent seasons.
"You stress that a lot, because it continues to add to a great game-day environment," Wulff says. "Most kids want the whole package — a solid education, they want to be able to play in a program that's a lot of fun, that has a chance to have success. Game-day environment is a big part of that.
"Pullman has always been known as a very difficult place to play, probably the toughest in the Pac-10. If you add facilities to that environment ... if I was a young player, I would definitely want to have that on my side."
While the Cougars sell out their stadium only on a sporadic basis, the Phase 3 improvements would provide a broad financial base that would lessen the impact of seasons when ticket sales aren't robust. WSU officials thus tout the renovation as necessary for the well-being of the athletic department.
Some of the improvements would be similar to those in Oregon State's $80 million expansion a few years ago. Oregon also did a major expansion to Autzen Stadium just before that, and Washington is wrestling with the problem of repairing aging Husky Stadium, including a plea for $150 million from the state Legislature.
To date, none of WSU's renovation funds include public money. But officials are keeping a keen eye on Washington's effort in Olympia and no doubt would make a similar plea if the Huskies are successful.
For now, it appears likely WSU officials will be continuing their fundraising push in a rebuilding season for the football team. But they say they're ready for that.
Says Johnson, "When you're down, in some respects, it helps you tell the story."
• The Cougars have reached a 10-year agreement with ISP Sports, which will manage corporate marketing opportunities and oversee sales for signage at Martin Stadium, Friel Court and other sites.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
UCLA extends win streak in Pullman to 18
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.