In early June, WSU athletic director Bill Moos guided a captive media audience on a tour of the newly constructed Football Operations Building. When the tour concluded, the press asked many questions about what the FOB means for the future of WSU football and athletics in general. Moos made it clear during the Q&A that he expected WSU to field very competitive football teams and that future upgrades to athletic facilities are on the way.
Moos began the press conference by announcing that the FOB project came in nearly $18 million dollars under the construction budget, which excludes money spent on design and branding. With the extra cash from the contingency budget, Moos said he was able to finance the new turf coming to Martin Stadium that will feature crimson-colored end zones. He also indicated that other improvements would be made on Martin Stadium, but did not divulge specifics.
Before taking any questions, Moos took time to thank both the Regents and President Elson Floyd for their support.
"None of this would have happened if President Floyd didn't believe in my vision," said Moos.
The vision Moos has is for all WSU sports. However, its foundation is a winning football program that is ready to compete with Pac-12 foes on a week-in and week-out basis.
"There's no reason we can't be in the hunt every year in a tough, tough conference," declared a confident Moos on the level of competitiveness he believed the FOB would create.
Moos cited Oregon State's Valley Football Center as proof that investment in facilities can pave the way towards success. The Beavers snapped a 28-year losing streak and would go on to finish nationally ranked within a recruiting cycle of the VFC's expansion in 1996. Despite the success the VFC brought to OSU football, Moos pointed out that the building is now outdated and that Oregon State is planning to reinvest in the VFC with renovations expected in the coming year.
Reinvestment was the key word Moos used to explain the direction the athletic department would take with the construction of the FOB now complete.
"The first thing we did here was invest. Then you have to shift it into another gear and reinvest," said Moos.
The next project on the reinvestment agenda is an indoor practice facility that will benefit outdoor sports that have to practice in poor weather conditions. In particular, Moos hopes that the indoor facility will be utilized by football teams preparing for postseason bowl games in late fall and early winter. Baseball and soccer are other sports that stand to benefit.
Most of the ability to reinvest is made possible by the television revenues from the Pac-12 conference. Since Moos arrived, television money is up 332 percent, which equated to a sum near $18 million dollars last year. This number will continue to increase with the contract average coming in around $20.5 million annually over the life of a 12-year deal that began in 2012. According to Moos, the revenue from television revenues make higher-paid coaching staffs and facility upgrades investments rather than expenditures.
The incoming streams of revenue required both timing and negotiation on Moos's part. There was a sense of urgency once television revenues started coming in to add the premium seating and construct the FOB. WSU needed to quickly upgrade its facilities or run the risk of falling further behind its conference opponents.
"I didn't want to be left in the dust at a critical juncture when the conference expanded," said Moos when asked whether the facilities would put WSU ahead of the recruiting game or merely keep the Cougs abreast with the rest of the conference.
More vital than the timing, Moos had to fight for equal revenue sharing with the bigger conference schools, and he came out a winner.
"We would have never been able to do this without the television contract we had and the equal payments to the institutions," Moos stated.
While television ultimately dictates the ability to improve facilities, Moos hopes that the fan base will also play a part in the reinvestment process through contributions and attendance at games.
"If we could take a potential donor through this like we just did today and they can see the building for themselves, we think that would help in regards to stimulating them to give a gift," Moos confidently stated when asked about the naming rights in the FOB.
Moos also wants to see the fan base start putting pressure on the current Martin Stadium seating capacity, which now sits around 33,500.
"I'd like to see that we're to the point that we're sold out three straight seasons," said Moos.
With capacity crowds over the course of several years, Moos indicated that he could make the case to President Floyd to possibly expand the seating.
An easy critique of the FOB is that it is centered on one particular sport. Moos made it a point on multiple occasions to reiterate the importance of having football stress taken off of the Bohler facilities.
"Our student-athletes will be better to train over there," said Moos.
Dining and sports medicine facilities in the FOB will be made available to other sports.
When asked whether or not having quality facilities was absolutely necessary, Moos seemed privy on the characteristics of Millennial Generation recruits.
"This generation, they want to be sure they meet their potential. They want to play at the next level," Moos stated.
The construction of the FOB is a marker that WSU is entering the recruiting arms race and is actively looking to compete with its Pac-12 opponents. With entrance in the race comes the need to keep up with the curve. Increasing TV revenues will make much of that possible. Still, a successful football team and high levels of fan support are key components to validating the investment in the FOB.