Martin upgrade: fundraising also is phased

WITH THE MULTI-PHASE Martin Stadium renovation project underway, a question heard frequently around cyberspace these days is this: Why hasn't WSU contacted me about making a donation? The surprising answer was offered up by Jim Sterk in a wide-ranging talk with CF.C about the stadium, fundraising, the annual Seattle football game, and the new Palouse Ridge championship golf course.

"Until a person identifies themselves to athletics, we can't call them," Sterk said. "They actually 'belong' to the school (department) that they graduated from.

"Just because you're an alum of Washington State, I can't contact you unless you've previously donated to athletics. We need people to step up and identify themselves if they're interested in helping," he said.

It's a standard practice in the world of university fundraising -- the academic side gets the first bite at the proverbial apple.

That fact notwithstanding, the timing isn't quite right for the broad appeal -- taking donations online, for example, Sterk said.

"That will come, but before we do that, we want to make sure exactly what we have, how much needs to be raised in total and when it will be finished," said Sterk. "All of those questions need to be answered in Phase III and then ultimately, Phase IV," he said.
The File On

Phases I, II -- Concourse areas widened, with the Northeast corner concourse doubled in size. New restroom facilities, new concessions. A new entry, and plaza, as part of the east entrance and a new ticket office.

Phases III, IV -- Will include constructing luxury suites, loge and club seats and the construction of premium seating.

Ticket and students fees; bonding

Private donations, lease revenue from suites and loge boxes.



Call 509-335-0220

The fundraising formula for major capital projects such as this is straight forward: Land a handful of cornerstone donors writing seven-figure checks, several six-figure contributors, and a host of medium-major types before commencing the widespread campaign.

Sterk and his staff continue to work hard on potential cornerstone and six-figure donors. And yes, Paul Allen has been contacted. The response, however, didn't include any $$$$ signs.

To assist with the medium-major gifts, Sterk is calling on a small group of alums -- self-proclaimed the "crimson club" -- to help convince other Cougars to pledge in the neighborhood of $25,000-to-$50,000 each that can be paid over five years.

The Martin Stadium upgrade will cost, when all four phases are complete, upwards of $75 million. The first two phases came in at $24 million and are fully funded via bonds from football ticket sales, student stadium fees and some other general revenue. Work began shortly after the last Apple Cup and will be largely completed in time for this year's home opener against Idaho on Sept. 15.

Phase I involves expansion of the north concourse, additional restrooms, and construction of a formal entrance at the east end, along Stadium Way, that will allow fans easy access between the north and south sides of the stadium.

"The north side will be almost completely done (by September), the east and the south may have some lingering things -- but most of the major work will be done," Sterk said.

When fans walk into Martin Stadium this fall, a number of changes will be immediately noticeable.

"The northeast corner is going to be significantly changed," said Sterk. "There will be two main entry gates there. The old Butch's Cage area, for alums who remember that, is the most significant area where change is going on, along with doubling the size of the concourse on that side.

"Some gating and fencing will be done but not all of it. The east end zone still will be under construction so it won't be transformed totally, but in the end, it will be significant -- there will be pillars out front, architectural gating, that people will notice on a daily basis driving by. We will be working through this next season, it will be finished in the spring/summer of '08."

The state-of-the-art scoreboard is on a separate timeline from the first two phases, and probably won't be in place until 2008.

Final preparations are being made for Phase III, and will involve the addition of premium seating behind the student section.

"We are working on the scope of Phase III right now so that we can take it to the next phase of design," said Sterk. "We are in the leadership phase of fundraising for Phase III, meeting with anyone who is interested in supporting the project. The design of Phase IV would start when we have Phase III funded and construction started.

"We're getting very close. We've had significant donations -- we've received over $11 million committed for that phase, and we're working with our bonding and finance folks. It's moving along."

Phase IV will enclose the east end in a bowl of about 5,000 seats.

Phases III and IV will boost Martin's seating capacity to 43,000, up from the current 35,117.

Sterk says an expanded and upgraded Martin Stadium is critical to WSU's success on the field. Stadium quality is widely seen as a reflection on the quality of the school and plays a big role in recruiting. With other Pac-10 schools planning, or having already completed, significant stadium improvements, it's vital that Martin -- which sits right in the middle of the campus -- be a first-class edifice that matches the quality of the educational experience.

To find out more on the stadium renovation, including how to donate, visit or call 509-335-0220.

THE ANNUAL SEATTLE GAME has become a fixture since 2002, when the Cougs drew 63,588 to Qwest Field in a win over Nevada. Since then, the attendance has gone steadily down, to a low of 41,358 against Baylor last year. Sterk, however, says that the event remains important to the school.

"The novelty has worn off but people obviously want a game there and as far as the university, it's really effective for us."

With the game as the centerpiece, WSU turns the entire week leading up to kickoff into a West-side confab touching all facets of the university and its outreach efforts.

"When we started it, I said we'd evaluate it each year and we'll continue to do that but I think it's something that works very well for the Cougars on the western side of the state," Sterk said.

The attendance would undoubtedly benefit by scheduling stronger opponents and some of the possibilities going forward include Minnesota and Hawaii, he said.

This year the Cougars host San Diego State at Qwest Field on Sept. 8.

WORK ON WSU'S NEW CHAMPIONSHIP golf course -- called Palouse Ridge -- is progressing nicely, Sterk said. Seeding will begin soon on the 18-hole links course and driving range, with the opening set for fall 2008.

The $8.4 million course and practice facility covers a 315-acre site that includes the existing 92-acre, nine-hole course and additional land east and south. Incorporating a links design created by well-known architect John Harbottle III, the course will be integrated with the natural beauty of the Palouse, preserving the open space on the east end of campus while making strategic use of limited water resources. Tees will range from 5,200 to 7,300 yards.

In addition to the course and practice facility, a $4 million, 7,000-square-foot clubhouse is planned. It will be located near the center of the course.

To learn more about the project, click to Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

Executive Editor Greg Witter contributed to this report

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