College Sports

Apple Cup move not in the cards

The Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies announced Friday they are no longer pursuing the possibility of moving their annual Apple Cup football game to Seattle’s Qwest Field.

Officials for both schools said Washington’s request for more tickets than WSU was the breaking point. Officials did not rule out future discussions about playing Apple Cups at Qwest.

First & Goal, which operates Qwest Field, was prepared to guarantee each school more than $13 million to play the Apple Cup at Qwest from 2010-15. The schools presently stand to make slightly more than $3 million each from playing the six games on campus.

Last week, WSU athletic director Jim Sterk said a tentative agreement had been reached on a proposal that would provide each school with 31,000 tickets at the 67,000-seat stadium.

Sterk stressed the deal was not finalized, but said he expected a contract would be signed.

The Huskies sold approximately 48,000 football season tickets last year, including 5,000 for students. The Cougars sold approximately half as many football season tickets, counting all-sports student passes that include home football games and the annual early season “home” game played at Qwest Field.

“It became evident an understanding on ways to maintain the neutral-site atmosphere in regards to ticket allotment could not be reached,” Sterk said. “Therefore, our student-athletes and Cougar fans would not be best served without this key component.”

Scott Woodward, the UW athletic director, confirmed at Huskies spring practice Friday afternoon that “with our fans and season-ticket holders,” the distribution of tickets was an issue.

According to a report in the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, citing an unnamed source within WSU’s athletic department, the Huskies tried making a late push for 7,000 additional tickets, bringing their total to 38,000.

That is when the deal fell apart, the newspaper reported.

Woodward declined to verify those demands existed, adding “there were other issues out there as well” for why the agreement never came to fruition.

“I was clear with you guys the whole time that (a contract) was far from done,” Woodward said.

Fans of both schools, particularly those of Washington State, had expressed disappointment in the possibility of the Apple Cup being played off campus.

The News Tribune’s Todd Milles contributed to this report.