Moos "optimistic" about fans' fiscal support

TACOMA – Despite the Cougars facing an erratic schedule due to TV requirements this season, Washington State Athletic Director Bill Moos couldn't be more pleased with the way fans are responding to the legacy Mike Leach is building on the Palouse. Moos said during a Cougar Athletic Fund event Friday at the Harmon Tap Room that season ticket sales are ahead of where they were a year ago.

He noted that there are only 50 club seats left in Martin Stadium.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "This year's home schedule is dynamite. We have seven home games (including the Seattle game) – and five great conference games."

Further impacts on sales include "the bowl game, (Connor) Halliday being a senior and a core of really talented young players that have been the result of the last two recruiting classes."

Moos admitted that having every game on TV this season gives fans an easy excuse to avoid driving to Pullman, but that the game-day experience is "second to none".

"Tailgating, Cougville, the Field House -- all of it is such a part of it that we have not seen as much of a dent in our season ticket sales as we even expected.

"We do a good job of marketing what we have to sell and it's going to be the place to be on a Saturday – morning, noon or night."

Moos said that about 90 percent of season ticket holders are renewing – and that the CAF has already sold a quarter of a million dollars in new season tickets for the 2014-15 season.

"We're getting new season ticket holders and a solid renewal rate, and that's all you can ask for."

Moos said that Washington State currently has its largest donor base in history and has raised its most money on an annual basis.

"We have seen tremendous progress the last three years," he said, adding that he credits the CAF's staff. "They have been extremely innovating and captured the fan base and have them giving to Cougar Athletics."

Still, Moos is quick to point out that there is work to be done.

"We would like our annual giving number to equal the cost of scholarships," he said, "and we're about $3 million off."

So why are fans reticent to, as Moos is so fond of saying, get their "skin in the game"?

"A lot of times they think what little bit they can contribute isn't going to make a difference," he said.

Additionally, having not gone to a bowl game in a decade didn't help the Cougars' cause.

"There's a little apathy there," Moos said. "I felt it when I came in in 2010. We had to work on changing the culture and energizing our people. A lot of it couldn't be done overnight.

"We can't rest on our laurels – we've got a lot more work to do – but I'm very pleased and excited."

So, he said, what they can do is sell the names: Leach. Kent. Daugherty.

"We have a fabulous roster of coaches who have proven to be champions at the big leagues, and they love being Cougars," he said. "That helps boost the energy in the fan base.

"We're finding people want to be part of that and get in at this time because they're feeling we're on the brink of something very special."

Moos said they are targeting the "lower end" to get recent graduates involved in CAF so their giving grows with the evolution of their careers.

"We look at it as a pyramid," he said. "We're getting people involved (and) when they start enjoying the success we're on the verge of, they feel part of the team."

Moos said that enthusiasm is contagious.

"We feel a tremendous amount of energy in our fan base," he said. "We have a lot of exciting things happening at Washington State, not just in athletics, but around the campus."

Moos said that when he was researching ideas for the Football Operations Building, he toured some of the country's premiere facilities, including Texas Tech and LSU. Now, he said, other schools are coming to him for inspiration.

He said the women's soccer facility is expected to be done in about eight weeks, and that improvements continue for both basketball programs. In addition to the revamp of their practice gym, Beasley Coliseum is seeing such upgrades as the center-hung scoreboard and in the locker rooms.

"We really took it from one of the worst in the conference to one of the best," he said.

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