Indoor practice facility would benefit entire athletic department

Facility would be paid in full by donors to Cougar Athletic Fund

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

Massive athletic facilities, state-of-the-art training and medicine practices and luxury suites for rich donors: WSU is relatively new to the college football arms race with these in mind.

The university continues to try and establish itself as a destination rather than a stepping-stone. With new Athletic Director Pat Chun side-by-side with WSU President Kirk Schulz, the two are expected to reel in some big-time donor dollars to the athletic department.

All signs point toward a new indoor athletic facility Cougar athletics desperately needs. WSU and Stanford are the last schools in the Pac-12 to build a permanent indoor athletic facility.

Chun indicated in an interview with The Seattle Times on Wednesday that the new indoor practice facility is a major project that would improve the quality of the athletic department.

“I know that’s the last piece, a big piece we need to complete,” Chun told The Seattle Times. “I have not done an assessment of what our needs are, but I know in talking with the president how that is important.”

A permanent indoor athletic facility has been in the works for WSU before, but was put on hold. Instead the university built “The Bubble” Indoor Track Facility, former interim athletic director John Johnson said.

No timetable is in place for the new indoor facility yet because it will be entirely funded by donor dollars. The project is estimated to run the athletic department as much as $28 million depending upon a few varying designs, Johnson said. In order for shovels to hit the dirt, it will be up to the Cougar Athletic Fund to scrounge up the cash.

And I say, “shovels hit the dirt,” quite figuratively, because the foundation to the indoor facility is already in place. That part of the project was done when WSU initiated construction in the early 2000’s.

Johnson noted that an indoor facility does not just benefit the football team, but will provide a space for soccer, track and field, men’s and women’s golf and baseball.

A new indoor facility is incredibly important for a number of reasons. First and foremost are the logistical advantages it would provide. When there is poor weather, which there regularly is in Pullman, the football team doesn’t need to prepare “The Bubble” just to practice.

A permanent indoor facility would allow for smooth and efficient transitions between outdoor baseball practices at Rogers Field and indoor practices. This may seem like a very minor upgrade, but in the Pac-12 the margin of difference between all the teams is razor-thin. Any advantage at all is worth every penny.

Another important factor comes in the way of recruiting. At its core, college football’s arms race comes down to getting the premiere talent to enroll at your university. Just uttering the words “WSU is one of the only schools in the Pac-12 that doesn’t have an indoor athletic facility,” is a turn-off to a recruit.

The brink of sustainable success is on the horizon. All WSU needs to do is catch up to the other schools. An indoor practice facility would certainly make WSU more attractive to athletes.