Students approve fee for stadium upgrade

PULLMAN – Jim Sterk and Bill Doba are breathing easier this morning now that a key hurdle has been cleared on the road to upgrading and expanding Martin Stadium. Washington State students this week voted to help pay for the renovation with a $25 per-student, per-semester fee that takes effect this fall. The measure passed by more than 60 percent, WSU announced.

If the students' willingness to assess themselves the $25 fee was critical because that guaranteed funding will allow WSU to secure additional bonding of up to $10 million.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the election and I would like to thank all of the students who voted, regardless if it was for or against the referendum," said Jim Sterk, WSU athletic director.

The final tally was 3,937 votes (64.4 percent) in favor of the fee and 2,153 votes (35.4 percent) against.

"It was very important to WSU Athletics that all students had the opportunity to give their voice on this matter. The result means that not only will our students' game-day experience be enhanced but it will shine a positive light on the entire university, as all of campus will benefit from the passage of the referendum."

Doba told hundreds of fans in attendance at the Night With Cougar Football celebration at Emerald Downs on Feb. 17 that an improved stadium is vital if WSU is going to continue to recruit successfully.

He talked about the competitive edge Oregon and Oregon State have as the result of their improved football facilities.

"You walk into that Oregon State stadium and you look up at that one side and you think you're in the Seahawks' stadium,'' Doba said. "It is beautiful.''

A renovated Martin Stadium "will help us in recruiting,'' he added. "And it also tells the parents that this university is willing to make a commitment to athletics."

The total cost of the four-phase project has been estimated at $73 million. Phase One of the renovation is scheduled to begin following the 2006 football season.

"For the past two years we've done a master-plan study and we've done conceptual design phases in planning,'' Sterk said. "Now we're going to move ahead with the schematic design. The $5 per (football) ticket that we charge people is helping to pay for design costs and then we're going to be able to bond on that and start Phase One."

Phase One will involve the construction of an entrance to the stadium off Stadium Way on the east end so that fans can access the north and south sides of the stadium.

Currently, you can't go from one section to another.

Also part of Phase One is an expansion of the concourse on the north side of the stadium and the addition of restrooms.

Phase One costs are expected to be about $10 million. Phase Two will be about $20 million. At an estimated cost of about $30 million, Phase Three will involve the addition of premium seating behind the student section in a separate building. Phase Four will involve enclosing the east end in a bowl of about 5,000 seats at an estimated cost of $13 million.

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