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It's time for Cougar fans to turn all the prime-time seats in Martin from silver to crimson

WHAT’S WRONG with this picture? Take a close look, right there on the top of this story. It centers on the prime-time seats – between the 30 yard lines -- on the south side of WSU’s Martin Stadium.

What’s obvious to the casual observer is that some of the seats are outfitted with crimson seatback cushions and some are just the bare metal.

It’s a similar breakdown on the north side of the stadium in the non-student sections as well, as the photo at the bottom of this page attests.

What’s not-so-obvious is the deeper story behind the crimson vs. silver color difference.

Here’s the answer:

The seats with the crimson cushions mean they’re occupied by season ticketholders who also donate at least $300 a year to the Cougar Athletic Fund

The bare metal seats are occupied by people who aren't season ticketholders or are season ticketholders but not CAF donors at the $300 annual level. And yes, it's important to note that some folks who do qualify for the cushions opt out because they don't like 'em.

Regardless, when I look at all those silver seats sitting between the 30 yard lines, one question begs:

HOW COME MORE PEOPLE AREN’T SUPPORTING THE COUGS BY BUYING SEASON TICKETS AND JOINING THE CAF?

We're at the dawn of a golden age in Cougar football. The 10 years in the desert are now a distance memory. The simple fact is this: No Power 5 school -- especially one poised for back-to-back 9-win seasons -- should have any seats between the 30s that aren’t filled by season ticketholders who are at the very least in the $300 range for the booster club.

And remember, aside from the obvious benefit of CAF membership – greater comfort on game days – there’s this:

  • CAF donations boost your priority seating and parking status; and
  • 80 percent of CAF donations, in most cases, are tax deductible for 2016 if made by Dec. 31

Moreover, CAF donations help pay for the scholarships that put all these outstanding athletes in Cougar uniforms.

The CAF currently has a record 7,700 members and WSU is pushing to 1) eclipse 8,500 and beyond, and 2) increase the size of the average donation of those renewing. An important footnote here is that the average donation to the CAF is about $1,000 – a number that pales when compared to our Pac-12 brethren; Oregon State’s average booster club donation, for example, is $2,400.

Increasing CAF membership and donation levels is vital to the health of WSU athletics because the CAF funds athletic scholarships -- and the chasm between donations and scholarship costs is about $4 million per year. WSU is believed to be the only school in the Pac-12 whose donors don’t fully cover scholarships, and the result is that Bill Moos must breach the gap each year through his operating budget.

The math is compelling. Spread just 1,000 more season tickets through sections 5, 7 and 26, for instance, and the total revenue from the tickets and the minimum required CAF donation equals $760,000. Add in another 250 season tickets in section 6 and you generate $227,000 in revenue. Just like that, WSU has another $1 million on the bottom line and Martin Stadium is a step closer to being perpetually sold out.

It’s time for more Cougars to get in the game. Literally.

Moos has invested heavily to elevate our facilities and nutrition programs to an elite level and Mike Leach is doing exactly what he said he’d do when he was hired five years ago: get the Cougars in the hunt.

We’re headed to our third bowl game in four seasons and the Cougars have compiled a 13-5 record in Pac-12 play over the last two years. Sure, we want better results in the Apple Cup, but there is no escaping the fact our coach and his staff are building a consistent winner at WSU.

Leach always preaches “do your job.” As alumni and friends of WSU, we need to continue to do our job. We need to push season ticket sales to 20,000 seats and the CAF to 10,000 members. You can start by clicking here to join, or renew your membership in, the CAF and by clicking here to put down a deposit on 2017 season tickets. Help  ensure that we enjoy more bowl games like the one many of us are planning to attend Dec. 27 in San Diego. We must always continue to invest in our success.

I think we can all agree winning is fun. It unites all of us and markets our university on a national scale. We all need to “do our job” by investing in WSU athletics so we can keep the momentum going. Go Cougs!

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • WSU sold an all-time high 14,1400 season tickets in 2016. Chair backs were provided, at no charge for CAF members donating $300 or more per year.
  • The CAF posted an all-time high in donations in FY 2016 with $6 million. The FY 2017 CAF goal is $6.25 million -- that represents about half of the athletic department's overall goal including facility gifts and endowment.
  • Following WSU's last Holiday Bowl in 2003, the CAF raised $2.5 million. Since 2009, the CAF's annual revenues have climbed from $3.1 million to $6 million.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Glenn Osterhout is a wealth manager in Bellevue who graduated from WSU in 1982. He is chairman of CougsFirst!, and recently donated a large sum to WSU athletics to name the recruiting suite in the Cougar Football Complex after Steve Gleason. Earlier this fall, he was honored with the Biff Brotherton Spirit Award by the WSU Foundation. He is a periodic columnist for Cougfan.com.

Prime seating on the north side of Martin:

Cougfan.com

THE SEASON TICKET/CAF BREAKDOWN OF MARTIN STADIUM:

WSU
 

 


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