Martin Stadium improvement plan seeks approval

Portion of money to come from Pac-12 TV deal

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SPOKANE — Washington State University regents will be asked next month to approve the plans for $80 million worth of improvements to Martin Stadium, with a portion of the money to come from the Pacific-12’s new television contract that dramatically increased revenues to each team.

The regents will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to review plans for the privately funded stadium project, which includes a larger press box structure filled with luxury seating. Regents will be asked at their Nov. 18 meeting to give final approval to the project.

Construction would begin on Nov. 21, with the project scheduled for completion next season, according to documents prepared for the regents by WSU President Elson Floyd and athletic director Bill Moos.

Martin Stadium, with about 35,000 seats, is the smallest football facility in the Pac-12.

The new construction, known as the Southside Project, is not intended to increase capacity but to dramatically expand the number of premium boxes and luxury seats that can be sold for higher prices. The new press box structure would run across nearly the entire south side of the stadium.

A second construction project, called the West End-Zone Project, would create a football operations center in the stadium, providing offices for coaches, meeting space and other amenities. Design and cost estimates for that project should be available next summer and will need separate approval from the regents at a later date.

“The source of repayment for the ... building project is expected to be based on the new revenue from the premium seating, Pac-12 Television revenue, and potential contributions,” according to the financing plan. No tax dollars will be used.

The Pac-12 recently signed a new TV deal worth about $3 billion with Fox and ESPN, and launched plans for its own network next year. Washington State, with the league’s smallest annual athletics budget at around $30 million, will be a major beneficiary of the added revenues as they will make up a much larger percentage of the budget than at richer schools.

The first phase of construction would be paid by a bank line of credit.

Ultimately, the school intends to issue 25-year bonds to finance the construction, paying an interest rate estimated between 4 and 4.25 percent. But that is only after it has become clear how much the school will receive in donations, and what additional revenues will come from premium seat sales and Pac-12 revenues