Since its inception in 1894, Washington State University students, fans, and alumni have paid witness to over a century of greatness when it comes to the football program.
Cougar football has had its share of renowned coaches such as William H. "Lonestar" Dietz, Orin E. "Babe" Hollingberry, and Mike Price. Additionally, the program has produced a phenomenal number of legends when it comes to playing the game. A small sampling of these players include: Glen "Turk" Edwards, Mel Hein, Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Rueben Mayes, Mike Utley, Drew Bledsoe, Jason Hanson, Ryan Leaf and Jason Gesser.
However, Cougar fans will probably say it's not only the vast number of great coaches and players who have made Cougar football unforgettable, but also the memories of where the games were played: Martin Stadium. Just as the great coaches and players of the gridiron program have changed so has Martin Stadium.
The history of the stadium dates back to 1892, when it was built and named Soldier Field. The first football game at the stadium took place, Nov. 9, 1895 when WSU defeated Idaho 10-4.
In 1902, Soldier Field was renamed Rogers Field in honor of the governor of the state of Washington, John R. Rogers.
WSU, then named Washington State College, built a completely new football stadium in 1936, but retained the same name. The new stadium was an all-wood structure built on concrete pilings. The field also featured new stands, an enlarged press box and an electronic scoreboard.
Thirty-four years later (April 4, 1970) fire destroyed the south stands (about 6,000 seats) and the press box. For the next two seasons, WSU called Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium home.
In the interim, a one-million dollar fund drive began after the decision was made to rebuild the stands rather than relocate or build an entirely new stadium. WSU launched a two-phase renovation plan that created a two-tiered structure that held 17,500, replacing the old seating capacity of 10,000 and increasing the total seating capacity to 30,000. Dan Martin, a Los Angeles businessman, gave $250,000 to the project with the stipulation the stadium be renamed after his father, Clarence D. Martin, governor of Washington state from 1933-40.
In the summer of 1972, artificial turf (Astroturf) was installed and the Cougars returned to action in Pullman for the first time in two years when WSU met Utah in the refurbished Martin Stadium, Sept. 30.
Renovations continued throughout the '70s as new north (student) stands were built in 1975. In the fall of 1978 work began on the south-side academic portion of the complex with the computer center relocating to the facility upon completion of the project in 1979.
At that time, the seating capacity of the stadium stood at 26,500, the smallest of any Pac-10 school.
Then director of athletics Sam Jankovich described Martin Stadium as a "football stadium too small to accommodate the crowds needed to draw in the Pacific-10 Conference." Jankovich pointed out that a new Pac-10 rule requiring guarantees of $25,000 to the visiting team made it difficult, if not impossible, to meet that requirement with the current seating capacity.
According to Jankovich, Martin Stadium only offered a few quality seats to sell to fans because of two reasons. The first reason was simply too few seats in the stadium. Students were using one side of the seating capacity, which left WSU the other half of seating to sell to fans. Secondly, the first six rows of the stadium were almost impossible to sell as patrons received a view of the players' backs rather than the action on the field.
Jankovich went on to say that most of the prime seats were already sold or committed through the previous stadium expansion project in 1971. That meant there was no seating for potential large donors, and there were few good seats to offer to new season ticket holders.
In short, said Jankovich, WSU was having a difficult time selling football tickets in advance because there just were not good seats available that people wanted.
To rectify the situation, Jankovich spearheaded an effort to expand Martin Stadium's seating capacity to nearly 40,000. This was done by lowering the playing field by 16 feet and extending the sloped seating areas closer to the field. It marked the first time a collegiate football stadium had been enlarged by digging down rather than building up.
The project was funded through contributions, gift-in-kind and the purchase of "stadium builder'' seat options. The project was also funded in part by the Martin family, with Charlotte Martin, widow of Dan Martin, giving $250,000 to the project. A SuperTurf artificial surface was also installed
The Cougars christened the revamped Martin Stadium with a 17-14 win over UCLA, Oct. 13, 1979.
Since 1979, the playing surface has been replaced twice. In the summer of 1990 a sand-filled Omni-Turf playing surface was installed. A decade later, FieldTurf was installed.
June 24, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
The University of Idaho will play all its home games at Martin Stadium at Washington State University to qualify for NCAA Division 1-A status. U of I's Kibbie Dome is too small for the rating. The school has a five year lease for the venue. Once the school is certified for 1-A status, it must only average 20,000 per game over the season and that would allow it to use the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome for all games except those that draw the most fans. Idaho will pay $7,500 per game for use of Martin Stadium. Idaho will get all ticket revenue.
WASHINGTON STATE TO MOVE FORWARD ON STADIUM
September 24, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Spokane, Wash. - The economy won't stop Washington State University officials on moving
ahead on a stadium expansion plan. The legislature had refused to fund the work, but the school
now plans to raise money from fans.
The WSU project calls for construction of 16 luxury suites, 31 loge boxes, and 1,200 club seats
atop the north stands, for a total of 2,200 premium seats. That doubles the revenue potential of
Martin Stadium, officials said. Prices will range from $1,700 for a seat to $50,000 for a suite.
The project initially was estimated at $40 million. Drops in construction and materials costs,
plus low interest rates on bonds, will place the budget in the low $30 millions, although the final
bids have not been received.
Work will begin once 80 percent of premium seats have been sold, with a goal of being finished
for the 2012 season. The athletic department already has $16 million.
The 35,000-seat stadium has recently undergone $27 million in renovations that included new
concession and restroom areas, a huge electronic scoreboard and other improvements. That work
was intended to improve the stadium experience and not to generate more money.
WASHINGTON STATE TO DELAY STADIUM IMPROVEMENTS
February 4, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Kitsap, Wash. - The addition of 2,200 premium seats to Martin Stadium will be delayed by
Washington State University officials to allow time for more sales.
Athletic director Jim Sterk said WSU has commitments for more than 50 percent of the new seats, but that is not enough for banks to provide the necessary financing for the project, estimated at more than $30 million.
Sterk said the WSU Athletic Department may finish in the red for the second straight year.
The Cougars turned a profit in Sterk's first eight years on the job, then lost approximately $200,000 in the past fiscal year. Football attendance has taken a hit the past two years, when the Cougars won just three games.
The Cougars have the smallest athletics budget, the lowest amount of donated funds and the fewest donors among Pac-10 schools. Martin Stadium is the smallest football facility in the league with a capacity of 35,117.
Sterk said income from the premium seats will almost double WSU's annual income from football tickets at home games.
CHANGES PROPOSED TO WASHINGTON STATE PLAN
December 9, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Pullman, Wash. - Washington State athletic director Bill Moos notified donors to the school's
Martin Stadium Phase III remodeling project he wants to change the plan, the Spokane Spokesman Review said.
In a letter to the project's contributors he let them know he's recommended to President Elson S. Floyd and the board of regents moving the project from the stadium's north to south side, where the press box now sits.
"Not only would this be a more cost efficient approach, but also would enable us to address such concerns as access, inclement weather, parking and the overall aesthetic appeal of the facility," Moos wrote. "Suites, loge seating, club seats and a club room would still be a part of the plan. It would also allow us to construct a modern and efficient press box which was not included in the original concept."
He also has made an addition to the project, formally proposing to build a football operations building in the west end zone, where the scoreboard now sits.
That facility, according to Moos, would "house all aspects of the football program including locker room, weight room, equipment room, training room, meeting rooms, coaches' offices, players' lounge, and an entertainment area that would serve as the training table during the week and a VIP room on game days."
The letter does not include a cost figure. The original Phase III on the north side was slated to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $33 million, the newspaper said. As of October, WSU had raised more than half that amount.
UPGRADES APPROVED FOR WASHINGTON STATE STADIUM
February 3, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Pullman, Wash. - The Washington State University Board of Regents approved starting design
on improvements to Martin Stadium in Pullman.
Bill Moos, the school's athletic director, told the Kitsap Sun preliminary cost estimates for
Martin Stadium's first premium seats (including luxury suites) and the Cougars' first football operations building are $70 million. That includes $5 million for the design phase.
Moos said the $5 million will come out of the $17 million raised for the original premium seating plan on the south side of the stadium. Moos said he hopes to raise another $15 million to $20 million to lower the cost of the bonding that would be required to complete the projects.
Moos envisions a stadium with 38,000 to 40,000 seats. Martin Stadium has the smallest football capacity in the Pac-10 (35,117), but the Cougars have found it increasingly difficult to draw even 30,000 fans during a seven-year run without a winning season or bowl appearance, the newspaper said.
October 27, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Washington State University's regents have been briefed on the possible expansion of Martin Stadium, a project now being presented as two separate ventures. The Spokane Spokesman Review says regents will be asked at their meeting Nov. 18 to approve a plan to construct a three-story press box and premium-seating facility on the south side of Martin Stadium, to be built above the current concourse and stretching from end zone to end zone. A planned football operations building behind the west end zone, previously tied in with the south-side project, will not be presented for the regents' approval until sometime in 2012. If the south-side plan is approved, demolition of the old press box and construction of the new facility will begin Nov. 21, two days after the Cougars finish the home portion of the football season.
WASHINGTON STATE GETS FINAL APPROVAL FOR STADIUM PROJECT
December 1, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Spokane, Wash. - The Washington State University Board of Regents has given final approval
for the Martin Stadium remodeling project to go forward, the Spokane Spokesman Review said.
The Regents approved the design of the project on the south side of the stadium and selling of
up to $80 million in bonds to pay for it. "It's been a process to educate the Regents (on) the importance of this project for our future,"
athletic director Bill Moos told a Pullman Cougar Club luncheon. "They were convinced, and rightfully so, we are a juncture in Cougar athletics, with the conference expanding and with equal revenue sharing, we've got a chance to position ourselves to be competitive.
"But if we don't invest in the facilities, we're not going to get the talent that can compete at this level successfully."
The south-side structure will replace the old press box - early aspects of the demolition will begin after the game Saturday, Moos said - and will include premium seating, suites, meeting room and media facilities.
The new press box is scheduled to be completed by the home opener next fall. The rest of the facility should be done by the Apple Cup next year, which will be played for the first time on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Moos revealed at the luncheon.
"We've got nine months to build an $80 million structure on that south side," Moos said of the ambitious plan. "The plan is, when you go into that stadium the second week of September for our game against Eastern Washington, that whole place will look completely different."
When completed, the building will contain 1,269 club seats, 42 loge boxes and 21 suites available to the public.
The football operations building, slated to overlook the west end zone, is still in the design phases and will be presented to the Regents in the summer.