Huge news tonight, broken by the best beat reporter around:
PULLMAN – Washington State University and the University of Washington are near an agreement to move the Apple Cup rivalry football game to Qwest Field in Seattle, The Spokesman-Review learned Wednesday.
The agreement, which is expected to be finalized soon, would mean the yearly game between the schools would move off campus sites – Martin Stadium in Pullman and Husky Stadium in Seattle – and be played in the Seattle Seahawks’ home each season beginning in 2010.
It's an idea that a lot of fans have kicked around, but something nobody ever thought the schools would seriously discuss. So why the change of heart? Money, of course. First & Goal, Inc., has guaranteed that each school will walk away with -- are you ready for this? -- $2 million every year. Compare that to the roughly $1 million the schools make every other year currently. As Grippi's source says in the story, it would basically be irresponsible of the school to not pursue this in the current economic climate.
Personally, I think this is fantastic.
The atmosphere will be absolutely electric -- since the tickets would be split evenly between the schools, I'm just picturing this massive stadium split evenly between crimson and purple, with a line in each end zone where the two sets of fans meet. And while it's a bummer that students and Eastern Washington fans will have to travel to Seattle every year, I can guarantee each school will have no problem selling its allotment -- the Huskies' likely gobbled up by season ticket holders, the Cougs' by season ticket holders and the myriad fans in Western Washington.
The downside, of course, is that this is bad for the city of Pullman -- businesses gain a lot financially from Apple Cup weekend. But the September game normally played at Qwest will be moved back to Martin Stadium, and while that game obviously will not likely draw as many fans to the city as the Apple Cup, there still will be five games in Pullman.
Additionally, in order for First & Goal to guarantee such a payout -- which is larger than some bowl games -- ticket prices are going to probably be pretty darn expensive. I'm sure First & Goal is banking on making it into a must-attend event to increase demand. It will be interesting to watch.
But all in all? Wonderful.