SEATTLE—In the next step of project development, the UW department of intercollegiate athletics announced a vision for the student game-day experience in a renovated Husky Stadium. The plan, which keeps tickets affordable for students and does not implement a student fee, includes an enlarged Dawg Pack section which will move to the west side of the stadium.
“Gathering student feedback was a priority for us, and after hearing from a wide range of sources we feel confident in our process,” UW athletic director Scott Woodward said. “We heard consistently that students were opposed to a student fee and that ticket affordability was important, and we are happy that our vision is aligned with both of those student priorities.”
The $250 million renovation will be entirely privately financed, with $50 million to be raised through major gift contributions, and the remaining $200 generated through new annual revenues associated with the stadium. Overall seating capacity is expected to remain similar to the current capacity. Groundbreaking is scheduled for November 2011, and UW has announced it will play the 2011 Apple Cup and its 2012 home season at Qwest Field.
“There is no better time to complete the project than now,” Ron Crockett, Husky Stadium Advisory Committee member said. “Financially, this is an aggressive campaign and we all need to be prepared for changes with the renovation. The end result will put us all in a much better place.”
With state-of-the-art amenities, a dedicated student entrance, student concessions, closer proximity to the field, engineered stadium acoustics, sustained ticket affordability, and improved video-board presentation, the student experience in a renovated Husky Stadium is expected to shift in a positive way.
“The renovation means so much to Husky Football not only from a recruiting and student-athlete development and competition standpoint, but from a fan perspective as well,” Steve Sarkisian, head football coach, said. “A renovated Husky Stadium will be the very best college football venue in America. It will give Husky fans something to be very proud of, and we look forward to making the Dawg Pack the best student section in the country as well.”
In developing the vision, UW ICA leadership has met numerous times with student groups including the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), UW greek system representatives, the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Council (WSAAC), UW graduate students, and current members of the Dawg Pack. ICA will now assemble a Dawg Pack Task Force who will aid in creating and implementing ideas for the student experience.
“Student involvement is huge to us,” Woodward said. “In meeting with our project architects, we have expressed that developing a tremendous student experience is a top priority. We will make sure that the Dawg Pack stays together, stays loud and affordable, and stays a focal point of Husky Stadium.”
Student Experience Q&A
Q: Does the decision have to do with finances?
A: Yes. Financially, UW ICA is a rarity among athletic departments in the NCAA. The athletic department is entirely self-sustaining and is not receiving financial support from the state or university for the renovation project. Furthermore, UW students do not have an athletics student fee associated with their tuition, as students at many other NCAA institutions do. The regent-approved funding model has determined that ICA must raise an additional $15 million annually to cover debt service associated with the renovation, and the location where the Dawg Pack previously sat is prime seating inventory. ICA must generate increased revenue from that area to meet its funding model. Without a move of the student section, the renovation is simply not possible from a financial standpoint.
Q: Where do students currently sit in Husky Stadium?
A: When factoring in the seating that the band occupies, the average student seat is on the 20 yard line. Only approximately 275 of the 5,960 Dawg Pack seats are located between the 40 yard lines.
Q: Is the student section important to ICA?
A: Students are at the core of what we do. What students bring to Husky athletics from a home-field advantage is so important that we’ve assembled a task force to help make decisions about the student experience as we move forward with the project.
Q: Will the Dawg Pack remain as big as it currently is?
A: Yes. Depending on decisions made by the Dawg Pack Task Force, the department is hopeful that the Dawg Pack will increase in size. Regardless, it will not be smaller.
Q: Will the band stay together with the Dawg Pack?
A: Yes. The energy created from the blending of the band and the Dawg Pack creates a great amount of enthusiasm. The band will move to the west side, along with football and athletic department guests and prospective student-athletes.
Q: What do student tickets currently cost?
A: The cost of a student season ticket in the Dawg Pack section is 40 percent of the cost of a normal ticket, without fees. A student ticket for the 2010 season cost $125.
Q: Who has UW ICA leadership met with through the process?
A: UW ICA leadership has met with the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Council (WSAAC), graduate students, and current members of the Dawg Pack. Additionally, UW ICA has held focus groups with UW students on the subject.
Q: What are other institutions doing?
A: 14 schools that have renovated or built stadiums in the last decade (including Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Virginia Tech) do not have students seated on the 50-yard line, and over half of the 14 institutions have a student fee which helped fund the renovation.
Q: What are some of the unique features about the new student experience?
A: A dedicated student entrance on the west side of the stadium. Architectural decisions based on the feedback of the Dawg Pack Task Force. State-of-the-art amenities, student concessions, closer proximity to the field, engineered stadium acoustics, sustained ticket affordability, and improved video-board presentation.