August 24, 2012 in Sports

Next Martin Stadium renovation on hold until TV distribution deals are complete

By The Spokesman-Review
 

PULLMAN – Washington State athletic director Bill Moos knows that money – much more of it than Washington State’s athletic department has ever seen – is on its way.

With the launch of the Pac-12 Networks this season, that much is certain.

But the Networks’ revenue sources are not certain enough for WSU to finalize plans to move forward with the next phase of the Martin Stadium renovation.

“There are still some tremendous efforts going forth by the Network in the area of distribution,” Moos told The Spokesman-Review on Thursday. “So there are too many unanswered questions there.

“Those are all in the 11th hour here as we embark on the season.”

Moos had originally hoped to present an action item before the Board of Regents today to gain approval for the construction of a football operations building behind the west end zone, the second phase of renovations that began with the construction of a structure on the stadium’s south side that will house luxury suites, premium seating and a new press box.

That project is nearing completion – furnishing is essentially all that remains – and is expected to be ready well before WSU hosts Eastern Washington on Sept. 8.

But because the Pac-12 Networks have not yet finalized deals with a certain number of targeted distributors – DirecTV chief among them, and perhaps of most interest to WSU fans in this region – Moos said he didn’t feel comfortable presenting the next phase to the regents as an action item.

“Right now, I would like to see that in the October-November months,” Moos said. “I think we’ll have enough information at that time.”

If they do, and if the project is approved, construction would begin shortly after the Apple Cup game against Washington on Nov. 23.

The operations building would include, according to the project’s official website, a new weight room, new locker rooms, new training and equipment facilities, as well as coaches’ offices and a heritage area.

Cost estimates have yet to be finalized for the operations building project, which will be funded by any surplus from the $80 million in bonds secured for the Southside project, revenue from premium seating sales, project donations and Pac-12 media revenue.

Premium seating sales do not appear to be a concern. All 21 luxury suites and 44 loge boxes are sold out for the upcoming season, as well as the majority of the 1,180 new club seats.

A deal between the Pac-12 and ESPN/Fox assures each conference school will eventually receive in the neighborhood of $20 million per year – the first year of the deal will net less than that figure, then it escalates each year after – but as Moos said, the Pac-12 Network dollar figures have yet to be established.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reported last week that a deal with DirecTV is nearing completion.

“I’m hopeful,” Moos said, asked if he believes the Pac-12 will land deals with its desired distributors, a list that also includes Dish Network.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the major cable carries in the Spokane and Pullman areas, already carry the Pac-12 Network, as do Cox Cable and Brighthouse Networks.

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