When the opportunity to take home a piece of Eastern Washington’s famed red turf began to take shape, hundreds reached for their wallets as quickly as Taiwan Jones streaked up the Roos Field sidelines in the weeks following its 2010 installation.
It sold even faster than the ex-Eagles running back and 10-year NFL veteran.
EWU, which recently put down a new red surface after wearing out the original, found a way to cut out thousands of mementos while raising funds for the Big Sky Conference power.
The Cheney school sold over 2,000 pieces – mostly small – this past summer and made roughly $120,000.
Rug-sized 2 x 3 pieces – the most popular requests – ran for $75, 7.5 x 7.5 for $175 and the more custom sizes were $5 a square foot.
“Most people just wanted a piece of history,” EWU associate athletic director Devon Thomas said. “Former students who wanted to remember a game they watched, old players that wanted to bring home a piece of the turf they played for years, a lot of different people wanted a piece of it.”
Fans, alumni, coaches, professional athletes who played at EWU and boosters were among the buyers.
The school distributed the pieces this past summer and a line of “about 600 cars” showed up to claim their red slabs, Thomas said.
EWU maintenance crews lifted the turf earlier this summer and cut the sizable turf into thousands of pieces for redistribution.
The school wanted to sell the pieces at an affordable rate and was flexible with sizes, heeding several requests of pieces small enough to fit in a picture frame.
“When we began to spitball the ways we could get this to as many people as possible, we wanted to be flexible,” Thomas said. “We had a very good response. A lot of interest.”
Fans purchased pieces of a red field that saw the Eagles win 55 of their 65 home games since the 2010 installation, including a 13-4 home postseason mark.
In the days following the purchases, fans posted their red turf in several settings – doormats, living-room and patio rugs, tailgate decor, personal gyms and more.
Jones Truck & Implement in Colfax – a third-generation, family-owned business that sells new and used farm tractors and equipment – got a lot more red.
JTI sells red Case-brand machines, so the business bought a 3,500-square chunk of red turf that is placed in front of the business near the Walla Walla Highway.
Display tractors sit on top of the slab along with a pole flying an EWU flag.
Owner Casey Jones, who has several family members who attended EWU, sent a tow truck to Cheney to haul the purchase.
“It’s been neat to talk about. Hopefully, it lasts us through the winter,” Jones said. “We didn’t know if the school would let us buy a piece that big, but they did. It was a win-win for both (JTI) and the school.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.