Cougar Corner | WSU Considering a Change of Venue for the Apple Cup

Lew WrightSenior Writer IApril 16, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  A Washington State Cougars helmet showing the initials of Pat Tillman next to the American flag during the Arizona State Sun Devils against Washington State Cougars Pac-10 game at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field on November 13, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Once again there's a story rising on the spring landscape that eclipses the coverage of the progress Coach Paul Wulff's Washington State Cougars are making on the gridiron.

This story isn't far afield from spring football.

We're talking the biggest game in college football played annually in the proud state of Washington.

The Apple Cup.

Yesterday, Vince Grippi of the Spokesman-Review offered up the distinct possibility that moving the Apple Cup to the "neutral" site of Qwest Field in Seattle is edging close to becoming reality.

Presently, the Apple Cup is rotated every year between the campus facilities of the UW and WSU alternating the home field advantage.

Where and why did a conversation begin on moving the Apple Cup to the west side of the Cascades?

"We have annual discussions with First & Goal on ways to continue our relationship and enhance our presence statewide," states WSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk. "As part of those discussions, I look at all avenues with my overriding goal being the betterment of Cougar athletics and it's student athletes."

Sterk's comments are consistent with his job of enhancing Cougar athletics to achieve at a high level mirroring the academic experience of students in WSU classrooms.

Yes, there is a clear difference in the character of Husky Stadium when compared with Martin Stadium, home of Cougar football. Most prominent is the scale of seating. Husky Stadium holds roughly twice the capacity of the stands in Pullman.

Should the Apple Cup be played at Qwest, each school would have access to more than 30,000 seats.

In the real world of college athletics, the revenue generated by hosting the Apple Cup is significant. Each school receives approximately three times more money for their respective athletic programs when the game is played in Seattle. We're talking about an additional $500,000+ for both WSU and the UW.

Those numbers pale when compared with what's being tossed around by moving the game to Qwest Field.

Try this on for size.

By playing the Apple Cup on the turf of Qwest Field, First & Goal, Inc. is negotiating with both schools to make a deal happen. The speculated numbers for the athletic programs for WSU and UW would be equal and in the range of $2 million.

Those numbers are in a league capable of continuing the elevation of excellence at Washington State.

But aren't we talking college athletics rather than professional sports?

To compete in the Pac-10, Cougar student/athletes deserve a level playing field. Frankly, that requires funding for scholarships, top-rate coaches and first-class facilities. Present economic conditions are putting a money strain everywhere, including Washington State University.

If the right deal is struck to move the Apple Cup, it likely would more than offset a number of financial areas WSU will be burdened with in the foreseeable future.

At a time when state funding to WSU will be trimmed, it is important that standards for the university not be compromised.

Naturally, this discussion isn't going to take place with blinders on.

Is there a potential of one less home game played in Pullman if the Apple Cup is moved?

Not necessarily. There is a long standing track record for the Cougs playing one game a season at Qwest. More than likely the Cougar Gridiron Classic game with a non-conference opponent would return to Martin Stadium.

There's a magical emotion that rolls over Cougar Nation when the crimson and gray clad warriors race onto the floor of Martin Stadium at the beginning of every home game. Cougar football has always been and will continue to be an integral part of the collegiate experience.

Clearly, moving the Apple Cup will be done only if the goal of maintaining and enhancing the world-class educational experience at Washington State University is furthered.

You are encouraged to respond by leaving a comment.


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