For nearly half a century, Beasley Coliseum has played host to not just Washington State Cougars basketball but countless graduations, concerts and other events. Forty-nine years after the doors opened, the building is really starting to show its age. Narrow concourses, small bathrooms, uncomfortable seats along with a lack of amenities and just the general “best practices” for a multi-use facility from the 1970s made the building feel outdated enough when I first set foot in it in 2006, let alone today.
Starting later this week, Washington State University and their consulting partner, AECOM Design West, will officially start figuring out the best course of action for Beasley: a remodel or replacement.
An RFQ (Request for Qualifications) from June shows the Notice to Proceed with the project is scheduled to go out on Thursday. As part of the RFQ, WSU said Beasley “no longer meets the current needs of the WSU men’s and women’s basketball programs” and that the school wants to explore “either renovating an existing facility or constructing a new facility”.
To be sure, this is the first step along what’s likely to be quite a lengthy process, especially given the university’s current bonding capacity being very limited. But it’s important that the school is at least getting the ball rolling to finally figure out whether the move is to replace Beasley altogether or gut the structure and create something almost like new. Of all the athletics facility improvements left on the docket, this is surely the largest both in cost and scope and likely the last one for decades.
What recommendations can you expect once the report from AECOM is ready? At the very least, reduced capacity as Beasley doesn’t need the 11,000+ seats it currently has. Expect expanded premium seating along with amenities similar to what they have in Martin Stadium club sections, like alcohol sales. Whether it’s a new building or a redone Beasley, you can expect much more intimate seating to try and bring fans closer to the action.
So, would it be a renovated Beasley or a brand new building? Tough to say at this point (and why the school put out the RFQ!). I would suspect that if the costs are roughly the same with a completely new building costing somewhere around 5-10% more, the school may just go for that so as to not interrupt the use of Beasley for the 18-24 months it would take to complete the building. If the school does go that route, I’d expect them to build the new facility in either of the parking lots adjacent to Beasley currently.
A remodel could very well be the way to go but would also mean both basketball teams are playing games in Bohler Gym for at least a season. Graduations would also need to occur outdoors, a less than ideal situation but doable for a few semesters if need be.
No timeline has been announced for when we can expect the report to come back with its recommendation.