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From 'the outhouse to the penthouse'

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Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 12:03 am

From the glass window timeline of historic Washington State football images to the embroidered Cougar seats to the state-of-the-art architectural features, the Martin Stadium three-story renovation project feels like WSU boosters' personal playground - "Cougarland."

"What you've seen here is now one of the premier buildings of this type, not only in our conference, but in the entire country," athletic director Bill Moos said. "We literally, in my opinion, came from the outhouse to the penthouse - and really that's what we're attempting to do with all of Cougar athletics."

That makes sense considering Moos and a handful of others traveled to Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and LSU in a three-day period last spring to gather ideas.

"We cherry picked the best of all of those - and others that I've associated with or experienced myself - and placed them all into this facility, which is really - I think - is as good or better than any in the country," Moos said.

The projected $80 million renovation came with a final price tag of $65 million, "or maybe a little less," according to Moos.

Washington State gave approximately 20-30 media members a private walk-through of the remodel Friday afternoon, providing the first look at the future for Cougar athletics may hold.

"This is an indication of where we are headed. We had tremendous support from President (Elson S.) Floyd and the Board of Regents and our fanbase," Moos said. "Here we are a week away from the season starting and a couple of weeks from playing right here in Martin Stadium, and the fact that his project has stayed on schedule and on budget is incredible."

The hope is the Martin Stadium facelift, coupled with the hiring of Mike Leach, will allow WSU to embark on a new era of Cougar football.

"We've gotten national attention for a variety of reasons. Certainly this is part of it, but also the Mike Leach hire," Moos said. "I really think that we're approaching a very special time in Cougar football."

The official opening of the facility may, in fact, mark the beginning of that new era. The ribbon cutting is schedule for 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 8.

The first floor features 1,183 outdoor club seats, while the windows inside "tell the story of Cougar football," according to Moos. Each glass window panel features a black-and-white transparent picture of the major events in Washington State football - from its all-time teams and players to the burning down of the south side of Martin Stadium in 1970. A wall in the middle of the floor - making up the back wall of a giant bar - will eventually feature another glass panel with the names of every WSU football player to earn a letter. The back wall was decorated with a mostly black-and-white mural, however, any Cougar crimson in the photos was enhanced and left in to make the images pop. Moos said new photos will be added "about every five years" to glorify the Cougars stars to come.

That's all part of the "branding" of the three-story building, which tastefully features Cougar photos, colors and logos of the past throughout. Moos said the branding aspect remains just 50-60 percent complete, but it should be completely finished by the time WSU kicks off its season Sept. 8 against Eastern Washington.

The second floor features 12-, 18- and 24-person suites, complete with refrigeration and kitchen set-ups, along with the athletic director and president's suite. The windows in each of suite opens garage-door style. Another change within the building is the ability to serve alcohol in the premium seating area, an amendment the Board of Regents passed on Friday.

"My vacation home," Moos joked, introducing his 42-person suite, making sure to include that the president's suite is a 167-person capacity room.

The third floor featured multiple spacious media areas, including an idyllic location for the TV rooms to accommodate an increased profile in the medium due to new TV contracts and the creation of the Pac-12 Network.

Each floor featured shared space that consisted of areas for catering, murals and other floor-appropriate accommodations, including a large bar area.

The 18-month project, with the majority of construction occurring in the final nine months, saw, at times, as many as 300 subcontractors working to complete it. Even during the busiest times Moos intimately followed the renovation to make sure it would be ready for football season.

"If we got behind by a day or two, we doubled the shifts to get right back up," Moos said. "And I've got to tell you, it's been flawless."

And it hasn't happened quickly.

"It doesn't happen overnight," Moos said. "Of course, the television money was essential - that we could invest in something like this. That was the first part of it."

Washington State is hardly resting on its laurels with the first phase of the renovation completed. The next step is a projected $60-61 million dollar football operations building, according to Moos.

"If we were able to break ground right after the Apple Cup this season, we could have the shell of the building done by '13, and have it ready for use by spring of '14," he indicated.


 

Follow Andrew Nemec on Twitter @AndrewNemec

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