We’re all familiar with Pacific Northwest weather in the winter and spring, especially around the Palouse region: cold, windy, and wet (even icy). Such an environment can make for uncomfortable sport seasons, weather-wise, hampering effective preparation for the spring contests.
In those seasons past, the Cougar football team had to travel to the University of Idaho to practice indoors, and the baseball and golf teams traveled “down the hill” to Lewiston and its milder clime.
But with WSU’s new indoor practice facility — the white domed, environmentally controlled indoor sports facility next to Bailey Field — these and other teams can thumb their collective noses at lousy weather.
The facility, built with $13.7 million raised by the WSU Athletic Foundation from private donors, boasts 87,000 square feet. That’s room enough for a 200-meter track or a full-size football field. And the facility features a changeable playing surface to accommodate different sports.
The exterior fabric is high-strength polyester coated with a polyvinyl material on both sides. The dome is designed to shed snow, which then must be removed on a regular basis from the around the perimeter of the facility, and to withstand those strong Palouse winds.
The track surface, “Mondo,” is down all the time. The AstroTurf for football and baseball can be rolled out as needed, a task that will take about 60 – 90 minutes, including moving sport-specific equipment.
Seating for spectators will be limited both by the dome’s size and building codes. And anticipated heavy use for university-sponsored sport team practice precludes its use by club and intramural sports or non-sport events.
Visitors can tour the new facility, which will be overseen by Facilities and Event Management, during an open house on Oct. 5.