On a mid-summer mission to Pullman, I just took a tour of Washington State’s Cougar Football Project, the name given to the three-story south-side edifice that replaces WSU’s antiquated (and inadequate) press box.
To be clear, the old press box didn’t just house the media. It was a one-level structure responsible for holding all the auxiliary functions — the coaching boxes (home and away), athletic director boxes (home and away), president’s box, radio and TV locations, officials’ replay booth, etc.
The old one was, to put it kindly, quaint. For instance, it had a total of two (2) toilets, one each in two rooms.
What I saw Thursday was astonishing, and not only in comparison to what it replaces.
I toured with WSU associate athletic director John Johnson and Brogan Adams, a field superintendent for the general contractor, Hoffman Construction of Portland. If I came away with an overriding sense for the project, it’s that anything so substantial can be built in such a short time. Hoffman didn’t begin construction until two days after the Utah game last Nov. 21.
Adams says the company hopes to have the project essentially complete by Aug. 15, at which time it can finish fine-tuning any glitches that surface. WSU’s home opener is Sept. 8 against Eastern Washington.
I asked how many workers are on the job at one time, and Adams said the addition of a handful like roofers and painters next week will bump that number to perhaps 325. To anybody who has spent time in the old press box, that’s a pretty staggering number.
There will be four elevators, a number in itself that reflects the immensity of the project. (There was no elevator at Martin Stadium previously.)
Interior walls went up recently, so the next few weeks of paint, tile and carpeting will provide definition to the whole effort.
First floor includes 1,183 club seats and 42 loge boxes, the loges housing four and six patrons. There will be “branded” artwork in a large gathering area in the middle of the floor with background touches like words to the fight song in raised lettering.
Second floor includes 21 luxury suites of 12, 18 and 24 people each. There’s also a “Coach’s Club” of single-ticket suite buyers. The concept is, you buy those, and it puts you in a large, 85-person common suite toward the west end of the facility. That one, plus the other luxury suites, plus the 42 loges, are sold out (or within one of it), according to Johnson.
Third floor is the press box, with media along the east end — roughly from the 25-yard line to the goal line — and various other media boxes to the west. At the west end is the visiting athletic director’s box, which appears capable of housing perhaps 25 people comfortably. Just as a comparison, Johnson estimated it’s at least four times the size of the old one.
The sight lines seem good, and there’s definitely more of a vertical feel looking down than before. Johnson figures the press level is 2 1/2 stories higher than it was in the old box. There’s also a sizeable east-end photo deck that Adams estimated at 50 by 100 feet suitable for entertaining, and with a view of the Palouse hills to the east.
Athletic director Bill Moos says the project is on time and on budget. Adams says there have been work crews at the facility from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., with some workers putting in five days of 14 hours per day and some work also taking place on Saturdays and Sundays.
The second phase, a football-operations building at the west end, would complete the project. WSU regents are expected to vote on that in August.