This won't come as an enormous shock to anyone who knows how politics work, but the WSU Board of Regents today officially approved
an expansion of Martin Stadium the design phase of the expansion of Martin Stadium, expected to cost around $5 million of the overall $70 million project.
EDIT NUSS, 1:10 p.m.: I just didn't read the fine print close enough. The board has not given its final approval on the overall project, as detailed here by Grippi. He's also got some quotes from Moos you won't find elsewhere. My guess is that this minor detail doesn't mean much in the overall scheme of things. The board probably just wants to make sure it knows exactly what it's approving, which seems wise.
Athletics Director Bill Moos said he expects to fund the proposal -- which includes premium seating, a football operations center and a new press box -- through donations and premium seating revenue, while also leaving open the possibility of using some of the increased revenue brought in by Pac-12 media rights and expansion. The firm cost has not yet been nailed down.
The timeline, I think, is the most impressive part of this. Moos hopes to begin demolition immediately following the final 2011 home game against Utah and have the premium seating and press box -- to be located on the south side of the stadium to provide easy premium parking access to the art building garage -- completed prior to the 2012 season. The football operations building (off the west side of the stadium) would likely be completed early in 2013.
This is fantastic, if not surprising news. Former AD Jim Sterk once estimated that the premium seating alone would double WSU's gameday revenue, something that's important in order to get better nonconference opponents into Martin Stadium. With the remote nature of Pullman being its own unchangeable deterrent, being able to offer an attractive payday to someone becomes critical. We simply haven't had that.
But in a lot of ways, I think this project is more about the football operations facility to Moos. He tabled the premium seating talk initially, saying that he thought it was probably better to invest in facilities that the athletes are going to use on a daily basis. If you want to know how importantly he views this facility, check out this quote from about four months ago:
"You see things across the country any more, and it’s a big attraction for recruits.
"I’ll give you a little illustration. I believe it was 28 years of losing football at Oregon State (the Beavers had 28 consecutive losing seasons from 1971-98), and they made the decision to put some resources and energy into building an end-zone facility there.
"Upon completion, four years later -- one recruiting cycle -- they were co-champions of the Pac-10 and beat Notre Dame ... in the Fiesta Bowl and finished fourth in the nation (in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll for 2000)."
This project allows Moos to both honor the donations previously pledged for premium seating and build the facility that he thinks will have a tangible impact on the quality of player WSU is able to attract to Pullman. It's a win-win for everyone involved.