The University of Washington announced Thursday what had long been anticipated — that it will play the 2012 football season at Qwest Field while Husky Stadium is renovated.
But the Huskies added a twist, announcing they will also play the 2011 Apple Cup at Qwest in an effort to get an early start on construction.
The 2011 Apple Cup is set for Nov. 19. The last UW home game before that is Oct. 29 against Oregon, so moving the Apple Cup allows for a three-week jump on the renovation.
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said the move of the Apple Cup will save the school roughly $3 million in labor and other costs.
“That’s serious money and it does really help on our time line,” he said.
Washington officials said playing Oregon was a fitting way to send out the old Husky Stadium, the foundation of which has existed since 1920.
The move has nothing to do with negotiations between UW and WSU a few years ago to move the Apple Cup to Qwest Field on a yearly basis.
“This is all about getting out early and saving money and beginning construction early,” Woodward said.
The game will be a UW home game and WSU will get only the same percentage of tickets it would normally be allotted for an Apple Cup at Husky Stadium (with the number of total tickets available to the public expected to be roughly 65,000).
However, First & Goal, the company that manages Qwest Field, will serve as host for the 2011 Apple Cup, overseeing all aspects of the game.
That means the pricing structure might be different from a normal UW game, and the game will not be included in UW season-ticket packages for 2011. However, UW officials said season-ticket holders will have priority on buying tickets for the Apple Cup.
The 2012 season that will be played at Qwest, however, will be run solely by UW, so all games will be included in a normal season-ticket package. Washington will host Nevada and Portland State that season in nonconference games.
One potential hitch is that Pac-10 scheduling changes that arise from adding Utah and Colorado could change the date of the 2011 Apple Cup, as well as other aspects of Washington’s schedule in those two seasons.
However, Woodward said he has already spoken with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott and is confident that matters will be worked out so that UW can begin renovation as planned. If the opponent for the last home game of 2011 changes, however, that game would still be played at Qwest.
The move is contingent on the UW Board of Regents giving final approval to the renovation design, which isn’t expected to happen until November or December. And it’s also contingent on UW raising the money needed to begin construction.
Washington is estimating a total cost of $250 million and needs $25 million by March to begin construction and has roughly $13 million at present. It will need $50 million by the end of construction with the rest being paid off in later years in money generated by the new stadium.
Woodward said he is confident the money will be raised.
“I am happy with the direction we are going,” he said. “We just have a lot of work to do.”