WSU and Pullman are spreading Cougar spirit with WSU flags around town and wraps bearing the WSU symbol on Pullman Transit buses.
“Our campaign for tourism has been to capture that college town spirit and the buses lead into that,” said Vicki Leeper, director of tourism and special events Pullman Chamber of Commerce.
The university could spend up to $141,142.54 to wrap the Pullman Transit buses depending on the number of buses wrapped, according to the City Council Sept. 20 agenda. The WSU Athletics Department, in correlation with the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, has also ordered 1,000 flags from China. The cost totaled about $200 to put up 130 flags, Leeper said.
In a previous interview with The Daily Evergreen, Darin Watkins, executive director of external communications of the WSU news service, said only two of the buses will be wrapped, costing $12,000.
However, according to a contract signed between the city and the university, the WSU logo will be used “on a minimum of ten of (the) City’s public transit buses.” The document goes on to say, “or such other number of buses as the parties may agree.”
The cost of ten buses being wrapped is about $55,000, according to the contract signed between WSU and the city.
Leeper said relations between the community and the university have been strained in the past.
“It’s amazing how many students haven’t even seen the downtown area,” Leeper said.
For this reason, the city is working on relations with the university to help support businesses, citizens and the students, she said.
It benefits everybody, Leeper said. Hotels, restaurants and other companies make their yearly budget based on WSU athletic events. Having things like university themed flags and bus wraps will help in generating pride, she said.
From the university's side of things, when parents consider who they are going to write their check to, they want to know that a community will support their children, she said.
The Local Funds account, through which the university is paying for the bus wraps, generates its revenues through by auxiliary enterprises, Watkins said. Auxiliary enterprises involve revenues from purchases like ticket sales for athletic events and when companies buy the rights to the WSU logo, he said.
“We will wrap more buses if the funds are available,” Watkins said.
It is hard to tell how much money remains in the account because of the fluidity of expenditures and revenues. However, there is plenty for the bus wraps, he said.
Last year, though, auxiliary enterprises exceeded its budget by roughly $2 million, according to the “Financial Report 2010” for WSU. This year’s budget expenditures will not come out until January, Watkins said.
“I thought the $141,000 was the amount it would cost WSU,” Pullman City Council member William R. Paul said.
The university offered to wrap the buses free of charge, so the city was not about to say no, he said. Several citizens, though, did complain that the money could be spent to bring back the Moscow-Pullman bus route.
“More importantly, the sharing of classes between the universities has been denied,"Paul said."I look at that aspect as the most important."
The first opportunity for students and community members to view the newly decorated buses will be Saturday at 10 a.m. near the Cougar Pride Statue on Stadium Way.