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Washington State - Football

Sterk Speaks Out On Moving Apple Cup to Qwest Field

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Athletic Director Jim Sterk said non-revenue generating sports at WSU would benefit from moving Apple Cup to Seattle Athletic Director Jim Sterk said non-revenue generating sports at WSU would benefit from moving Apple Cup to Seattle
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PULLMAN, Wash. - Responding to criticism from fans about possibly moving the annual Apple Cup football game to Seattle's Qwest Field through 2015, WSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk said he's only trying to do what's best for the university.

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Sterk sent an email message to fans on Thursday in an effort to explain why the school is considering the move.

"Our current agreement with First & Goal, the parent company of Qwest Field, expires at the end of 2009," Sterk said. "We have annual discussions with First & Goal on ways to continue our relationship and enhance our presence state-wide. Our discussions with First & Goal are moving forward and we are continuing to evaluate the financial and program impact of a decision to move the Apple Cup to Qwest Field. Throughout these discussions I consider all avenues that would provide the maximum benefit to our student-athletes, Cougar Athletics, and Washington State University."

Sterk's defense of the possible move is based primarily on money.  Currently, Washington State and Washington get about $240,000 each when the game is played in Pullman.  They receive roughly $800,000 each when the game is in Seattle.

"Under this agreement, the WSU Athletic Department would be provided with $10 million of new revenue for essentially moving three games from Pullman to Qwest Field," said Sterk.

Sterk points out that the additional money would help offset a tuition hike proposed by the state legislature, and would be split among the entire athletic department.

"Football supports all of the nonrevenue sports in the department," he said, "and through this agreement those sports would benefit from the increased revenue brought in."

Another benefit to the Apple Cup option, Sterk said, is that the Cougars' annual game in Seattle would be moved to Martin Stadium, thus giving Washington State an additional three home games between 2010 and 2015.

Sterk concluded his email to fans saying, ""I hope this message provides some clarity as to why we are considering moving the Apple Cup to Qwest Field. I appreciate your passion for Cougar football, Cougar athletics and Washington State University. Please know that with all decisions I make as the director of athletics of this great institution I have the best interests of WSU and the greater Pullman community at heart."

Sterk's defensive move came as several business leaders in the Pullman community expressed outrage at the idea of moving the game to Qwest Field.  The Pullman Chamber of Commerce sent a letter, calling the idea of moving the game "astounding".

At the heart of the Chamber's argument is the loss of dollars moving the game would cause to local businesses.  Managers at Dissmore's grocery store said "sales usually increase by $70,000-$100,000 that week."

Hotels in the area said the industry stands to lose more than $300,000 if the game is moved to Seattle.


And Chevron said it sells 7,000 to 8,000 extra gallons of gas on Apple Cup weekend, plus sales of an additional $2,400 inside the store.  If the game moves to Seattle, that money would be gone.

Included in the letter to Sterk was a line in a section titled, "Other comments heard at the Chamber".  It read, "It's like they are saying that we don't matter.  The fan base doesn't matter."

Sterk said negotiations with First & Goal, the parent company of Qwest Field, "are moving forward", and that the university is "continuing to evaluate the financial and program impact of a decision to move the Apple Cup to Qwest Field."

Saturday: After receiving some heavy criticism from the Cougar faithful, Sterk finally spoke to media on camera on Saturday at WSU's second football scrimmage of the Spring. Click on the video box to view the unedited interviews with Sterk.

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