As I mentioned in the comments last night, I'm really split over the potential move of the Apple Cup to Qwest Field.
Therefore, I'm going to debate the issue against (arguably) the 3rd most knowledgeable Cougar sports blogger on the planet - myself.
Away we go:
So, there's potentially a deal in place to move the Apple Cup to Seattle full time in 2010.
What the what?
No, seriously. The seats will be split down the middle. 50% Huskies. 50% Cougars. Like a high school rivalry game.
Wow. Ok. That's random. It would be a nice atmosphere, except for the fact that you could have the first all-out brawl between student sections in collegiate sports history.
Yeah, I'm guessing the student sections will be strategically placed at opposite ends of the stadium. They will also probably import the most power-drunk Crowd Management attendants from Pullman and Seattle alike to ensure that nothing goes down - and that your personal insults directed at the other team will NOT be tolerated.
Right. I'm sure the student sections will also be about 100 people each, because let's face it - when you have a chance to squeeze out students for revenue-inducing season ticket holders, you go for it. The attitude of athletic departments toward their lowly students really bothers me sometimes.
But what the heck is going on? This game is in Seattle. Qwest is 6.1 miles from Husky Stadium. That's pretty much a home game. For the Huskies. Every year.
Yes, but it's 50/50 seating. And since half of WSU alumni come from the west side, the crimson section should still be full. After all, we sold 63,000+ seats for a game against Nevada at Qwest. Is there really going to be any problem selling 35,000 to the Apple Cup?
Hmm. I guess not - but we need to wait for the ticket prices to come out. If they're really promising the kind of payout they are promising, those are gonna be some migthy pricey tickets. And the deal could inadvertantly price out East side Coug fans who would otherwise be willing to make the trip.
The money is a huge boost to the athletic department though. It could potentially give both schools a leg up over their Pac-10 brethren.
True. And remember, while it takes away our home-field advantage, it also takes away the Huskies' by ensuring that we have a fair share of fans in the stands every year.
But what about our home field advantage? What about the Snow Bowl? What about making those prissy little girls from Seattle play in man-weather? The kind of weather you'd only expect in two places: Pullman, or an episode of the Deadliest Catch?
That's pretty much gone. I hope we can play in rain. Although this Steve Sarkisian guy keeps telling me that it really doesn't rain that much over there.
Lies. UW constantly quotes the "hey, we get just as much rainfall as New York" statistic for recruits. But the fact is that while average rainfall is about the same, it doesn't take into account the number of days with rain. In the Puget Sound area it's a lot of light rain on numerous days. In New York, and the Southeast, it's more about heavy rains that happen less often. Fact of the matter is there are still more gray days in Seattle.
Ok, we're getting away from the point here. This is a win-win. The only real advantage the Huskies get from this game is travel time, and an additional game every other year in their hometown. Other than that, both teams get fans, both teams get paid. A lot. And we were already headed to Seattle once a year anyway.
Even though I'm a fan of the Seattle game, I still feel sympathy for the fans who flat out hate it. And it really is unfair to leave the Seattle game detached from the regular season tickets, like it is currently. Having said that, it's still pretty amazing the turnout we still get.
You're also missing the big issue for the city of Pullman: that business depends heavily on football weekends. If a few business close in Pullman that would've been open otherwise, is it really worth it that the athletic department gets paid?
I know - that's a downer for the city. However - Pullman gets the old Seattle game back. And while that opponent draws less, it also means that during non-Apple Cup years, all the 'home' games are in Pullman. The city loses one big game every other year, but gets back two smaller games. That seems to be a wash when you really look at it.
Also - less speeding ticket revenue for Colfax. Gotta love that.
Alright. Maybe it works out. But part of me is going to miss the crimson-filled stadium cheering against the Huskies year after year. One out of every two years, we get to join together in our mutual hatred of all things purple. Last year, the teams were terrible, and the game was still a classic. You can't take away those moments.
Not to mention that the vast majority of Coug fans are against this. The Spokesman poll is 85-15 against the plan. Our poll (thanks, johnnycougar) is still about 2/3 against. It's hard to argue with the vast majority of our fellow Cougs.
I think people are just attached to having the game in Pullman. How quickly people forget that the game was played in Spokane as recently as the 70s. Plus, as Nuss pointed out, we're 6-8 at home since the move to Pullman, and 5-8 on the road. That doesn't scream home field advantage to me. Is this really just east side Cougs being lazy?
I don't think it's East side Cougs being lazy - a lot of them still travel to the West side for the road game at UW. But it's certainly controversial to rip the game out of Pullman - Husky fans can still take solace in the fact that the game is still a stone's throw away from campus.
But it's not at Husky Stadium either. Bloated old piece of crap that it is, the Huskies still have an advantage there. It's still loud, it's still huge, and the Huskies don't come close to matching the percentage of seats that we give them for the annual contest. Now they still play in their hometown, but half the seats are occupied by visiting fans. Seems pretty neutral to me.
Well, my head is about to explode. I can't decide. I guess at the end of the day, we'll still play the Apple Cup every year, and it will still be as fun to watch as ever. I loved rushing onto the field last fall after arguably the greatest Coug comeback in the Cup's history. But I also loved watching Brandon Gibson go completely untouched into the end zone from the comfort of my in-laws' living room. It'll still be the same game, and in the end all that matters is that we keep playing it. Wherever it's played, it's one of the best rivalries in America.
And keeping that rivalry alive is what's really important. I mean, we'd never wuss out of playing Gonzaga in basketball, right?