Say hello to Busch Light Field.
Yes, you read that correctly. While the sponsorship deal in and of itself isn't all that surprising, the WSU Board of Regents' approval of the name change Wednesday night almost certainly was.
The WSU administration's movement to separate the University from its "party school" stereotype was tempered a bit, when the Anheuser-Busch company informed school officials they were willing to make the required $10 million donation to the general scholarship fund for naming rights. There is also precedent for the stadium's new beer-themed name: the St. Louis Cardinals currently play at Busch Stadium.
The name change will be made official as of this fall, and the agreement lasts through 2026. Officially the Stadium will be known as "Busch Light Field at Martin Stadium," out of respect to former Washington state Governor Clarence D. Martin.
From the Milwaukee Statesman:
"We think this is a wonderful opportunity to grow and expand upon the Busch Light brand", said Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch. "We have always been proud of the vibrant role Busch Light has had over the years on college campuses, and with the Pullman area accounting for 16.8% of all Busch Light sales worldwide, we feel this is the perfect match at the perfect time."
Washington State athletic director Bill Moos applauded the move in a press conference April 1st. "As we lead the Cougar faithful into the next decade, we wanted a sponsorship deal we could be proud of; one that resonates with our fans".
"Busch Light has undoubtedly played a role in the off-campus lives of many of our 21 year olds," Moos joked, "but we also need to recognize the strong business partnership of Anheuser-Busch, and the enormous contribution they are making towards the future of our student athletes. Now let's tap that keg!"
Washington State University President Elson Floyd was also excited about the change, "This move can only be described as a positive one for the future Cougar athletics, and the University as a whole. The stadium naming rights deal allows us to improve facilities, expand and meet the ever-changing needs of our student athletes. Busch Light is truly a world class beer, and we consider ourselves a world class institution."
The move is not without controversy, however. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and NAMBLA have all expressed concern that the name change inherently promotes underage drinking. When asked about the opposition, Moos declared that the detractors were all "a bunch of squares".
The NCAA is expected to approve the proposed name change as early as Friday. Reached for comment Wednesday, Pacific-10 conference commissioner Larry Scott said that "while I prefer Monarch Vodka, I feel the name brings some positive name recognition to one of our fine member institutions."
The name change becomes official August 14th, and plans are underway to redesign the East entrance corridor that currently bears the "Martin Stadium" nameplate. Ideas for the redesign include an oversized inflatable Busch Light can, or a giant metallic Cougar made exclusively out of used Busch Light kegs. The Board of Regents are expected to approve the latter as part of an effort to improve awareness of on-campus recycling.
Alcoholic beverages will still not be served inside the stadium.
April fools. I really hope you figured that out.