April 8, 2012
Roos Field might get a whole lot better
It looks like EWU is planning big to replace those bleachers on the Washington Street side of Roos Field. Much like they made a splash with the red turf, they're going all-in on an 8,000-seat addition to the stadium that once looked like a high school played there.
The vision is in place at Eastern Washington University for a multimillion-dollar “city within a city” that aims to improve the campus experience on game day – and every day.
The Gateway Project, unveiled recently to the EWU Board of Trustees, would include 8,000 additional seats on the Washington Street side of Roos Field. Inside, the facility would house concessions, leased commercial space, suites and more.
Now comes the hard part, said Mike Westfall, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the EWU Foundation, which made the presentation to the trustees.
“Right now we are trying to temper expectations as much as possible, so we are strictly in a feasibility phase right now,” Westfall said. “But everyone we have heard from has reacted favorably.”
Now there's plenty of other bells and whistles with this project that make it more than extra seats in the stadium. While they haven't even begun taking donations, so who knows how far out this is, it shows a direction for the future. The current size of their stadium is more than adequate now for all their games, except for the Montana Griz game. An increase of 8,000 seats and the extra facilities that they're putting along with it look like this is more of a precursor to the FBS. Again, this is years and years and years off, but if you're not selling out your stadium every game right now, why are you adding 8,000 seats?
Most of the feedback from alumni I've seen is very positive and I'd imagine that the fundraising will be a popular effort. However, it has a $20 million price tag - I think the press box project was just a few million to complete - and it would be the biggest addition that Roos Field has ever seen. I'm just guessing you might see this become a reality in 5-10 years if the project doesn't lose steam. By that time, EWU might be ready for the WAC (I'm not thrilled at the prospect of being an FBS small fish).
It's amazing how much EWU changed when I went there, and how much it built up after I left. This project doesn't surprise me. The university has gradually improved their campus and this is another step in that.
Now the question becomes... is it a better stadium than WSU?