Big WSU stadium project on time, below budget

PULLMAN'S reputation as a sleepy college town in the summer is getting a makeover, courtesy of the Martin Stadium construction project. And what a project it is, with premium seating areas and a new press box now dominating the skyline on the south side of Washington State's football stadium.

"Until you walk on the field and see the mass of the structure .. the website doesn't do it justice, how massive it is," senior associate athletic director John Johnson said last week. "It's as tall as the lower bowl is tall, so it really changes the look and feel of the stadium." (see photos below)

There is enough concrete in the 84,049-square-foot structure to cover the entire playing surface of Martin Stadium a foot-and-a-half deep. It contains 900 tons of steel and will include 7,800-square-feet worth of windows.


MARTIN STADIUM LAST WEEK

"I think it's going to create a different environment from the noise standpoint as we close it more. And the premium seating and the press (box) are second to none."

Johnson said construction is on time and on budget. In fact, the budget is shaping up so nicely that WSU plans to take about $15 million of the $80 million construction bond (which will be paid back with premium seating revenue, television money and donations) and invest that in the football operations building they hope to build on the west end of the stadium.

That west-end project, now estimated at between $62 million and $65 million, is tentatively scheduled to be voted on by the WSU Board of Regents at an undetermined date this fall. The operations facility, which would require the current scoreboard to be moved, is set to include football-only coaches offices, rooms for lockers, weightlifting, training and team meetings, special areas to honor and/or gather former players, etc.


THE VIEW ON SEPT. 8

As for the fast-rising project on the south-side, construction crews have been hard at work at Martin Stadium since the final home game was played last November.

"As of two days ago, over 300 workers in various trades were working on the project, which is a big number," Johnson said.

"We're at crunch time right now. Most of the windows are in. The sheetrock starts today. The electrical people have been in for a week or two."

Stadium capacity will increase only slightly, to 34,300, from last year's bleachers-removed-in-the-west-end-zone 32,248. But revenue from the new suites, loge boxes and club seats will nearly double what WSU earns each home game.

WSU tickets manager Paul Finn said all 21 suites and 42 loge boxes are locked up, as are 700 of the 1,180 club seats.

Johnson said in excess of $3 million is a "very conservative" estimate of annual income the premium seating areas (counting food and drink) will generate.

The premium seats will be adjacent to a club lounge (see artist's rendering at bottom of this story) that will feature casual seating, large flat screen TVs and high-end food and beverage options.

Johnson extended high praise to architects, designers and construction workers for their efforts on the Martin Stadium project. "It's really top-notch," he said.

Click here to follow the project online, donate to it, and purchase club seats.

Johnson and Finn said they expect WSU to host its first sellout in five years on Sept. 8 when the Cougs inaugurate the remodeled Martin against Eastern Washington.




ARTIST RENDERING OF CLUB LOUNGE.




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