As I walked onto the football field at Martin Stadium with my dad and brother last weekend, I couldn’t help but to be in total awe of what I was viewing.
With the new FieldTurf crunching crisply and yet reacting exactly like real grass under our feet as we walked, we skimmed over in beautiful 90 degree heat to the new (old) midfield Washington State logo. It is beautiful and vibrant as ever, and quite a stark contrast to the old faded logo that had to get repainted each season with a new coat of ‘not-quite-crimson-but-close’ paint for the past few seasons.
The new Crimson end zones are much slicker and eye-popping than I thought they’d be. In fact the pure color across the entire field makes the old turf look really faded and if you remember watching games from the last few years the turf now will seem like the shade of green was totally off, like your lawn in the Fall vs the Spring. And for what it’s worth the excess money that Bill Moos spent on the special Cougar-crimson colored paint that won’t chip or fade was well worth it. Just look at the old turf right before it was replaced in this picture from WSU’s twitter account compared to the color of now.
It may seem meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but for whatever reason I’m enamored with things like this, the aesthetics, and Martin Stadium now really delivers. For now, the Cougs will be one of only five football fields in the world to use this new Revolution Fiber from FieldTurf; Seahawks, Patriots, Ohio State and Notre Dame. It’s been rated as the most lifelike grass simulation in the world.
Panning across from right to left facing South, straight into the massive press box, club seats and loge boxes that now tower above the old, now rustic-looking premium seating (which could use some work in the near future). That press box is of course, the first thing you notice, as enormous as it is stretching from end zone to end zone and even a little bit beyond that. As big as it looked last season, now that the West side is finished (which we’ll talk about momentarily), that box looks just even more ridiculous now. There are truly only a couple of press boxes in the nation that even come close to comparing, none of them in the Pac-12 Conference.
In the East end zone on my left (toward Stadium Way and Beasley Coliseum) stands that huge LED video board that Ford Motors sponsored, just a beast of a sight when it is lit. It’s not the biggest board in the Pac-12 or anything like that, but it’s plenty large and blows all other previous Cougar boards out of the water. Of course the new concourse and gate is all up that way as well, but that was up a while ago and in fact all of this we saw last season. Still, it’s impressive to think that the half-size video board on the other side was the thing we were super-excited about during the old Jim Sterk days. Innovation just wasn’t on that guy’s mind, but more on that in Pt. 2.
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By the way if you didn’t read my unbiased view of the upgrades at both Martin and Husky Stadium, you can click the link. I also wrote an early impressions of the new Martin that you can look at to sort of feel the difference of where it was then and where it is now.
Another cool feature is the new tunnel that leads directly to the Cougar locker room. It used to be on the right side when looking into the end zone, now it is on the left in the Southwest corner and is neatly tucked away in the corner of the new “CrimZone”, which is essentially now a crimson-painted extension of the student section in the end zone where the most athletic-attending students from the previous year and the band will be selected to sit and raise the noise level. It’s meant to create a similar atmosphere to the “ZzuCru” from the basketball games and is well put together in both concept and design into the stadium.
One of the cooler aspects of the old tunnel in Martin was that WSU-logo flag/canopy that sat over the top of it. Moos and the designers decided to keep the idea and match it up in overlap fashion to the curtain that will open to allow the players onto the field. The concept is brilliant, unique and cool. Other teams use helmets, or some version of a tunnel, but not many schools use their logo over the top like WSU now does.
The visitors will still come out of the Northwest corner, right in front of the student section, to a healthy chorus of boos. Both teams will have to cross the field to get to their respective benches, assuming the teams will stand on the same sidelines as they have in the past, with the Cougs standing on the student section-side. That shouldn’t be an issue before the game since they run out separately, maybe at halftime though. At any rate since the locker room is right directly connected to the tunnel the Cougs will get the maximum amount of rest at half, which is more important than you might think.
Finally, you look up, and what used to be an open-ended piece of high school bleacher seating with some tents around it is now an incredibly massive, beautiful building. Five stories, the biggest WSU logo in the world and a clean look straight into the new weight-room. For weeks, many people have toured the place (including people that have been to some of the top venues in the country) and all of them have said that this OPS building is a world-class venue. They aren’t lying.
Around the back of it, Cougar legends reside in the hallways inside the place but also are incorporated into the pillars around the building. A clear view of the practice field and a straight-shot bridge to the CUB or stairs to a new, open concourse are more cool and seamless features.
I could go on, but basically what Martin is now is a major college stadium deserving of a lot of things we’ll talk about in this continuing mini-series. Nearly every seat gives a clear, beautiful view of the field and now there’s much more to look at. It was a terrific experience even without touring the OPS building to just check out what the place has become.