My guess is when you read about the new proposal for the Martin Stadium renovations, many thoughts went through your head. A lot of you are probably appalled that in this economic downturn our university would even think of considering such a large amount of spending on a non-academic project.
I am here to tell you that this project, although extremely expensive and poorly timed, is most definitely necessary. Our football program, as much as I love it, is struggling — a lot. After recently suffering losses to arguably one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, Oregon State, we followed up with losses to Oregon and California. It is obvious something needs to be done with our football program.
Many nay-sayers will claim that football is a waste of the university’s money and should not receive university help. Some of the money from football programs will unfortunately always come from the school; but a large portion of it thankfully comes from private donors who love their alma mater.
Most of the money for this ever-needed renovation will be coming from the new Pac-12 media deal with ESPN and FOX. For those of you who have not heard, the media deal is bringing in $3 billion during the next 12 years to the Pac-12. The money will be divided up among the schools of the Pac-12. WSU will get a larger sum of money than many of the other schools that have larger athletic budgets, as it has the smallest annual athletic budget, which is only about $30 million.
Martin Stadium is a small and very ordinary stadium, as many of you know, but we Cougars have come to call it home. It is sadly, however, the smallest stadium in the Pac-12 with only 35,000 seats. The saddest part is we cannot fill the few seats we have. We need to renovate our stadium in order to make it a more exciting place for Cougar alumni and potential donors to come to the games in Pullman.
These renovations, which will cost $80 million, will create another facility to impress our potential new recruits. By getting better recruits we will create a better team to spark enthusiasm among fans and increase the amount of people attending our games.
If you have read any of my columns, you know I disagree with a lot of things our university does but I also agree with a lot. This restoration is one of those things I agree with. Our school did a great job working on a much-needed restoration given the hard economic time we live in. I applaud WSU on a job well done.
As for our football team, I am a believer. I followed the Mariners blindly for years and I will follow my Cougars for even longer than that. I have complete faith that with a little hard work and help, the Cougars will once again be a bowl competitor, and maybe even in a few years, a championship program. All they need is a little support from you.