Moving the Apple Cup to a neutral site, although economically beneficial for the schools, sucks. Proponents point to the Red River shootout, or the World's Greatest Cocktail party as proof that the neutral site idea works. The NFL has already done everything it can to debunk home field advantage, must college football, which is so reliant on passion, home stadiums and mystique do the same?
However, there is a deeper issue here, and for once, I will argue mostly on behalf of my crimson and gray bretherin instead of the purple and gold i was raised on. I've been to the Apple Cup at both stadiums, and both are great in their own right. It helped that the Apple Cup in Seattle was when both teams were ranked in the top 15(the last time this would happen I believe) and you had legit stars on both teams(Although Reggie Williams utterly abused Marcus Trufant). You had Mike Price doing what Mike Price does, infuriating 73,000 fans by getting a penalty called on the Huskies for carrying on too long with honoring their seniors, and doing what he does even better, and outthinking himself in a big game for the umpteenth time and his team getting shellacked because of it. This game also upheld the time honored tradition that the Huskies will ALWAYS be more physical than the Cougars.Cut the crowd in half, as well as the teams win totals, and you have the 2006 affair, a wildly entertaining contest under the lights in Pullman that the Huskies ultimately won because the Cougars safety play was terrible and they couldn't get off a punt(somehow Cougar fans blamed Alex Brink for this one, nice).
Anyways, long story short, the game means more in Pullman. Its the biggest crowd, its the biggest visiting crowd, which means more hotel rooms are booked, more restaurants are filled, more beer is bought, more money is spent. The economic effect means more than the couple hundred thousand the university makes on the game.
By moving the Apple Cup, the university is thinking about itself, not the fans, alums, students, who would all have to travel 4 and a half hours, spend the money, on food, lodging and the jacked up price for tickets every year instead of every other year. Not to mention all of the pissed of alums that will withhold donations(don't think this is possible? You think UW would have any trouble raising money to remodel their stadium and other programs if they hadn't lost 40 out of their last 50 games?). How is this the same athletic department that refuses to have home night games because the travelling fans might not get home till late at night? How can the university gripe about how they need the extra two million a year when they spent 20 million on a ridiculous stadium "enhancement"?Then again, this is the same school that sells individual tickets to the west endzone of martin stadium for the Apple Cup when its a student area for every other game so they can make more money and in turn, fewer students can attend(Great idea guys). Not to mention the apple cup ticket would be extra added onto the season tickets purchased, meaning that
A) a season ticket package would not include the Apple Cup gameand
B) assuming tickets are divied up evenly, 20,000 or so UW season ticket holders would not be able to go to the Apple Cup. Hardly fair.
C)Assuming the Cougars continue their one pilgrimmage to Qwest Field a year for a non conference game, that would be two "home games" taken out of Pullman.
Also, as great as Qwest Field is for Seahawks games, its roll as a neutral site venue sucks. It is like all new NFL stadiums, huge, impersonal and lacking in the charm that stadiums like the Cotton Bowl(one of the reasons Oklahoma/Texas works so well) have. It screams the NFL, which means it screams money. College football is supposed to scream passion, thats not helped by the sterile environment of an NFL Stadium. The lesson, as always, is that the administration at WSU will chase the money, and then use that money to dress up a university that needs an academic makeover more than new dorms, a new stadium entryway, a new CUB, a new videoboard and all those other bells and whistles they are adding instead of adding new, quality faculty.