WSU Regents Approve Stadium Work, Housing/Dining Rate Hikes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

WSU Regents Approve Stadium Work, Housing/Dining Rate Hikes

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Board of Regents of Washington State University gave the go-ahead Friday to an $80 million project that will add premium seating and a new press box on the south side of Martin Stadium on the Pullman campus.

The regents' approval will allow construction to begin Monday, following the final home football game of the season to be played Saturday against Utah.

"We greatly appreciate the Board of Regents' support of this project," said Elson S. Floyd, president of WSU. "The investment in Cougar football is an important step in program competitiveness. All of our sports will benefit as a consequence."

Bonding after TV contract discussed

At its regularly scheduled meeting at WSU Spokane, the board unanimously approved the schematic design for the Martin Stadium project. The vote on the financing provision was 9-1, with Regent Elizabeth Cowles voting no, citing the unpredictability in the media rights environment 12 years hence.

During discussion in Thursday's Finance and Audit Committee meeting, board members agreed on the need for the project. Most discussion focused on concerns about bonding the project over 27 years, while the new Pac-12 television contract is for only 12 years. The athletic department is planning to use a portion of the TV revenues to pay debt service on the project.

At Thursday's committee meeting, Director of Athletics Bill Moos said the worst-case scenario would be that television revenues would be flat in any TV contract that follows the 12-year deal, and that a more likely outcome would be further increases in revenue in any future contracts.

Parts of stadium would be completed by fall

On Friday, regents who supported the bonding resolution said they were comfortable with the financial projection of future revenues to support the project. WSU's revenues from the TV contract will range from $10.4 million in 2012-13 to $22.4 million in 2024-25. Estimated annual debt service for the project is $5.4 million.

By starting construction immediately, the athletics department plans to have the press box completed before the first home game of next season on Sept. 8, 2012. The luxury seating should be completed soon thereafter. When fully occupied, the club seats, loge boxes and luxury suites are expected to bring in more than $3 million annually in net revenues at projected price levels.

The second phase of the Martin Stadium project would be construction of a football operations building behind the west end zone. That building would include a weight room, training facilities, locker rooms, coaches' offices and meeting rooms.

In the summer of 2012, the university will assess the costs of that project and the potential revenues that could fund it. The regents would be asked to approve that construction and financing plan before it goes forward.
 
In other action, the board:

  • Approved housing and dining rates for the 2012-13 academic year. The rates represent a 4.5 percent ($402) increase in average room and board rates and 3 percent increase in campus apartment rates. Housing and dining officials cited increased costs of food and energy and increases in the minimum wage as the reason for the new rates.
  • Approved the resurfacing of Mooberry Track on the Pullman campus at a cost of $1.35 million, which will be paid by athletic department funds. The track, which was last resurfaced in 1999 and is also used by the general public, is scheduled to host the Pac-12 track and field championships in 2014.
  • Approved changes in the WSU Retirement Plan to reflect changes in state law approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

Floyd also read a resolution to recognize the contributions of outgoing Spokane Mayor Mary Verner to WSU's efforts to build its health sciences center and to develop the Riverpoint campus.

The board's next meeting will be Jan. 27 at WSU Tri-Cities.

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