Eye On Olympia

Can Husky Stadium win over Cougar taxpayers?

Never underestimate the fervor of a Washington State Cougars fan. I did a story last fall that included these folks:

Take, for example, 2001 alum Darin Hanson, who delayed buying a new car until Dodge made it in a WSU-like shade.

"It gives me an immense amount of pride to have a crimson car in a city of purple," the Seattle resident said.

And that's not all. Not only does Hanson have the obligatory sweat shirts, T-shirts and so forth, he also had WSU's cougar-head logo tattooed on his leg.

"It's almost ridiculous," concedes Hanson, who has 36 tickets to today's game against San Diego State at Qwest Field.


Of similar mind are Bruce and Debbie Lisser, a Mount Vernon, Wash., couple who've been following WSU sports for years.

"We didn't make the Wisconsin game just because we were in Iowa for a wedding," said Bruce. But their RV trundles over the mountains to every home game, year after year, with a batch of Cougarita drinks on board.

The Lissers have Cougar luggage, a Cougar barbecue, a Cougar tent.

They have a refrigerator full of Cougar Gold cheese. And wine. A watch. A "Go Cougs" arm bracelet.

"I even have a Cougar martini glass," Bruce said. "If it has something to do with WSU, we have it, I'm quite certain."

Still, Lisser stopped short of crimson cars or tattoos.

"I can't remember singing the fight song when the boys were born, so I think we're OK," he said.

So it shouln't come as a surprise that the University of Washington's request for $150 million in public funds to renovate Husky Stadium might miff some of the many, many Seattle-area WSU Cougars. Here's what one said to the Seattle Times:

"Why the hell would I as a Coug want to pay for the Husky Stadium renovation," said Kyle Bahl, a 2007 WSU grad who lives in King County, where the taxes for the UW project would be collected.

Echoing those sentiments yesterday was state Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who mockingly compared the request to the unsuccessful bids for public money for a new basketball arena for the (apparently Oklahoma-bound) Sonics.

"What are the Huskies going to do if the Legislature says no to their funding request? Threaten to move out of state?" said Schoesler, whose district includes both WSU and Eastern Washington University.

"Even though it costs far less money, WSU didn't even think of going to Olympia to ask for money to fix up Martin Stadium," he said.

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