PULLMAN – The fallout from the news Thursday that Washington State and the University of Washington were close to an agreement moving the Apple Cup to Qwest Field on a yearly basis settled on the state’s East Side like ash from Mount St. Helens.
It was deep, it was hard to move and everyone was talking about it.
Though nothing official has been agreed upon, or, for that matter, even officially talked about, the response from many WSU and UW fans was quick – and overwhelmingly negative.
A non-scientific on-line poll by The Spokesman-Review was running 85 percent against the idea. A Seattle Times survey attracted a majority who thought it was a bad idea. Comments on the papers’ and other Web sites were at least 3-to-1 on the negative side.
In a more concrete development, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce sent an open letter to WSU athletic director Jim Sterk, stating the group was “astounded at the idea of moving the Apple Cup game to Seattle for the next six years,” and urging Sterk take into account “the broader economic and psychological impacts of moving this game out of town.”
The letter, signed by chamber president Tom Handy and executive director Tammy Lewis, cited Apple Cup economic impacts that, according to those surveyed, are for some, “double or triple the revenues they reap from a regular home game weekend.”
The responses of the people who would play the game, however, were not nearly as dire.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” senior linebacker Andy Mattingly, who grew up in Mead, said after Thursday’s spring practice. “Coach (Paul) Wulff said we’ll play in Colfax, Ellensburg, wherever. It really doesn’t matter to a player.”
But Mattingly knows who the change, proposed for 2010, would affect.
“I think the people it matters more to are the students, people who live on the East Side who would have to travel over there to watch the game,” he said. “I feel for the fans, I think they are the ones who are going to care the most. They’ve got to drive. We’ve got a 20-minute flight over there; it doesn’t matter to us.”
Junior punter Reid Forrest would rather not play his senior Apple Cup in Qwest instead of Martin Stadium.
“Nothing’s final, but I’d like to see it stay in Pullman, though, I really would,” said Forrest, who grew up in Ephrata where the classrooms would be half purple and half crimson during Apple Cup week. “Just for the tradition. The Snow Bowl. It’s where we go to school. It’s our home turf.”
Wulff understands the negatives of losing that home turf every other year. It was part of the balance he weighed recently when asked by the administration to appraise the pluses and minuses of such a move.
“Does the value outweigh the negative?” Wulff asked. “That’s the bottom line. That’s where it’s at. And that’s been my only part in this process.”
“At the end, today’s day and where we are, economy-wise, and some of the other things you could do scheduling-wise, it could,” he said. “And if people knew all the facts, the details of it, it might.”
The schedule is one area on which Wulff concentrated.
“If the game’s played after Thanksgiving, it guarantees that we now have a bye in a 12-week season, without having them put a regular-season game in December,” Wulff said. “I think that’s a big benefit.
“We actually would get an extra game here, because we would no longer play the Seattle game early in September. So every other year, we would actually get another home game. … So there are some positives in that direction from a scheduling standpoint in the big picture.”
“Off the bat you hear about it and it’s kind of shocking news,” senior tight end Tony Thompson said. “I think people have to learn more about it before they make an opinion.”