In light of media reports regarding the Apple Cup and the possibility of moving it to Qwest Field, WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk addressed the topic in an e-mail message sent to concerned fans on Thursday, April 16.
Sterk began his message acknowledging the fans’ concerns stating: “I understand the emotional attachment Cougar Football, and the Apple Cup specifically, has for Cougar fans such as you, as well as the historical significance of the game.”
“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.”
Many fans e-mailed Sterk expressing worries over the possible move of the annual WSU-UW game. In response, Sterk said that he wants to arrive at an agreement that is financially positive for WSU, will provide greater opportunities for Cougar fans to continue to see the Cougars play in Seattle and Pullman, and provide the greatest benefit for Cougar Athletics and WSU.
To fulfill his objectives, Sterk said that moving the Apple Cup to Qwest Field for a limited period, 2010-2015, is one of the options he is considering. If adopted, three Apple Cup games would be moved from Pullman to Qwest Field.”
Apple Cup History
The first meeting of the Huskies and Cougars was in 1900 in Seattle, leading to a 5-5 tie. Over the years, the two teams have faced off 101 times. From 1934-61 the winner of the cross-state rivalry was awarded the Governor’s Trophy. In 1962, the Apple Cup trophy was instituted. The UW has taken home the trophy 32 times and WSU 14. WSU has won four of the last five matchups. Washington holds a 15-12-1 advantage when playing in Pullman, including a 35-32 victory in 2006.
“The benefits of moving the Apple Cup game to Qwest Field are wide-ranging,” Sterk stated, including a financial benefit to the athletic department he can’t ignore, given the current economic climate.
“Our current revenue sharing in the Apple Cup is approximately $240,000 for each school when the game is played in Pullman and roughly $800,000 when each game is played in Seattle,” he said. “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.”
“This increased revenue will also assist the department in dealing with the harsh realities of the national economic downturn,” Sterk said. “For example, if a state proposal to increase tuition by 14 percent tuition goes through, it would add more than $1 million to the Athletic Department’s scholarship bill. This additional revenue would allow the Athletic Department to continue to grow and not take a step backward.”
Not included in the e-mail message, Sterk stressed the importance that the football program holds throughout the 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.”
Sterk also stated in his e-mail message that each school would receive equal tickets to the game, meaning more Cougar fans will have the opportunity to see the Apple Cup in person.
Another benefit to the Apple Cup option, is that the Cougar’s annual football game — played at Qwest Field — would be moved to Martin Stadium in Pullman. That means Pullman would gain three additional home games between 2010 and 2015.
Sterk concluded his e-mail with this comment: “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.”
Click the following link to see a “Q&A with Jim Sterk on the Apple Cup.”