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Anger in Montlake

Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward is now faced with coming up with a so called "Plan B" for dealing with the renovation of Husky Stadium. In a normal year SB 6116 probably would have made it through the Senate and the House but this wasn't a normal year.

First of all the state, country, and world are in the worst recession since World War II. Legislators weren't keen on the picture it would paint by funding sports stadiums in an economy such as this.

Second of all an organized campaign led by one of the trustee's of cross state rival Washington State University was the actual nail in the coffin. Woodward isn't saying that but why would he give those bozo's credit?

Even though this was a difficult measure to pass Senator Ed Murray had the votes he needed to get it through the Senate until a massive WSU led email and phone campaign took away the resolve of the legislature.

Woodward and Emmert actually made some calls over to WSU asking the administration there to put a muzzle on the campaign and were surprised to learn that even though the WSU administration was publically neutral...privately they were encouraging the protest and were not going to stand in its way.

While Woodward said he didn't think was a real factor were efforts by fans of rival Washington State to kill the bill. Several led an organized campaign against it, including renting a plane to fly a banner over the Capital earlier last week urging legislators to vote against it.

"No, it was just irritating," he said, when asked if he thought the Cougars fans' effort killed the bill. "It was just an irritant, that's the best way to put it."

Woodard, however, had some sharp words for the way the WSU administration helped foster that protest.

UW made the case that the precedent of passing a bill like SB 6116 would help both schools down the line. As I have said time and time again what is good for UW is also good for WSU. If UW gets money WSU is sure to get the same opportunity when in need.

The most puzzling part of the equation is that the WSU athletic department is dependent on a running $2 million year subsidy to run the athletic department not to mention that Martin Stadium and Beasley Performing Arts Center were both built with money directly from the state general fund.

Senator Ed Murray has introduced legislation to remove that funding and also restrict WSU from using student generated fees to assist in the remodeling of Martin Stadium or simply help run the athletic department.

I find it interesting that WSU ever let things go this far in an economy like this. The loss of the state subsidy and student fees could conceivably cripple the WSU athletic department enough that they would have to leave the Pac 10 or move the majority of their football games to Seattle to make up for the shortfall.

WSU supporters are betting heavily that it is just a bluff but Senator Murray has made it clear that he will make it a personal mission to stand in the way of any potential non educational funding in the future for Washington State University. Hacking off Murray is similar to messing with Frank Chopp who for all intents and purposes controls the House.

Over in Montlake the first reaction was to cancel an almost done deal to move the Apple Cup to Qwest Field in Seattle. That decision cost WSU an estimated $5.5 million dollars over a six year period.

Most importantly it cost WSU the opportunity to continue a proactive and friendly relationship with UW. Expect Washington and its supporters to show no mercy and give no help to WSU in any matter whether it is sports or academics. A deep line has been carved in the sand and over the years WSU will pay dearly for it.

So now Scott Woodward has to resort to a "Plan B" which means two things. Try the State Legislature again next year or start raising $300 million in some other way. I don't think the outlook will be any better in the 2010 legislative session. The current recession may not be over till 2012 at the earliest so the economic climate will probably get worse rather than get better over the short term.

One thing I have always seriously questioned is why Washington has never formally put together some sort of public fund raising program for the project. The UW athletic department doesn't seem to be interested in donations under $100,000 for this project. To raise $150 million you would need 1500 people to step up with that type of contribution. 

$100,000 is a lot of money but even in times like these it shouldn't be difficult to put together a list of possible contributors who would consider that amount chump change.

UW needs to get busy with "Plan B" and while they are at it punish the administration WSU for their absolute idiocy.