Big crowd on tap for Cougs' game at Qwest?

COUGAR FANS WHO HAVE a Ticket Priority System ranking with the Washington State athletic department would do well to order tickets now for the August 30 game at Qwest Field between WSU and Oklahoma State. Why? Because all signs suggest the contest could approach, and perhaps eclipse, the Cougars' attendance record at Qwest since they started playing there six years ago.

Through Friday evening, TPS Cougars get first dibs on the best seats for the Seattle game. After Friday, it's good old fashioned first-come, first-served.

That's more relevant this year than most because a variety of factors point to 60,000-plus for the contest, which will be the first one in the Paul Wulff Era.

For starters, the game falls on Labor Day Weekend, which makes it especially attractive for fans coming to Seattle from the southwest and eastern parts of the state.

In addition, there's no competition in town that day from the Huskies or Mariners, which will boost attendance by the non-partisan sports fans.

There's also the opponent. Oklahoma State is a solid program from a major conference (the Big 12) with a head coach noted for making headlines and an offense known for lighting up the scoreboard. Moreover, Cowboy fans travel well. The school has requested 5,000 seats from WSU.

And of course there's the Cougars, who will feature a new coach, a new quarterback and a brand-new, high-flyin' no-huddle offense.

"Everything points to a big turnout for this one," says Dan Meyer, WSU's ticket sales director.

WSU drew 63,588 to its first "Gridiron Classic" at Qwest, against Nevada, in 2002. Attendance the following three years ranged between 50,100 and 56,200. The number dropped to 41,358 for Baylor in 2006 and then rebounded to 46,290 last season against San Diego State.

This year, 60,000 to 65,000 seems within reach.

That means there's extra incentive for TPS Cougars to get their orders in on time if they want prime-time seats.

"All orders for the game at Qwest Field which are received (via fax or mail) in the WSU Athletic Ticket Office by Friday will be allocated at the customer's TPS ranking," says Meyer. "Orders received after Friday will be seated after all the TPS-ranked orders, by the time and date that the order was received.

For TPS-ranked fans, that could be the difference, in some cases, between sitting at the 50-yard-line or sitting at the 10-yard-line.

Similarly, non-TPS fans will want to submit their orders asap because after the TPS folks are taken care of, seats are assigned first-come, first-served.

WSU is the sole seller of Gridiron Classic tickets, but Ticketmaster will join the fray on June 2. Ticketmaster, however, charges a $6 processing fee per ticket; WSU doesn't.

For tickets or more information, called 1-800-GO-COUGS or visit

• The Washington Beef Producers are once again the official sponsors of the Gridiron Classic.

• Kickoff time has not yet been determined, pending a decision by ESPN, which will be broadcasting the game.

• Hundreds of tickets to last year's Qwest game were donated to youth charities in Western Washington by, Dick Donahue of Bellingham, Glenn Osterhout of Bellevue and others. If you'd like to help out with that effort this year, contact CF.C at

• Fans concerned with traffic and parking at Qwest will have the option of riding to the game via Sound Transit's Sounder train, which offers service from Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila, Everett and Edmonds. It was such a success at last year's Gridiron Classic – close to 2,000 Cougars took advantage of the seamless round-trip – that Sound Transit is thinking about adding more capacity this year.

• Suite rentals are available, but limited, for the Cougar-Cowboy game. Depending on suite size, prices will range from $3,600 to $7,500. WSU will know more about availability in June.

• All tailgating at last year's Qwest game was prohibited in the North parking lot. No word yet from the Seahawks if that policy, which by all accounts didn't apply to their games last season, will be in force again on August 30.

• Since its inception, WSU's annual game in Seattle has evolved into a week-long celebration of the broader university. In the days leading up to the game, dozens of university events take place in Seattle, ranging from the business school power breakfast to the diversity luncheon. The football game is the capstone to a week-long, community outreach effort in the school's single-biggest market for alums and future students.

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