WSU Cougars to discontinue annual football game in Seattle

WSU Cougars to discontinue annual football game in Seattle
SEATTLE - Thursday’s Washington State Cougars football game at CenturyLink Field will be the last annual “Seattle Game” for the foreseeable future.

WSU athletic director Bill Moos this week said that the university has scheduled no more Seattle games on the horizon, marking a de facto end to the 13-year tradition. The Cougars have played one of their six annual home games at neutral CenturyLink Field since 2002 (except 2010), and while the event started off highly successful, it has faded in popularity and profitability as the football team has struggled.

The Cougars sold out the first Seattle Game, when what was then called Seahawks Stadium had just opened and WSU was ranked No. 11 in the country. While the university continued to make good money off of the Seattle Game, particularly in the early days and after Moos switched it conference matchups this decade, it appears the pros of playing in front of a sizable community of Seattle alumni no longer outweigh the cons of losing a bona fide home game in Pullman.

Besides, WSU spokesman Bill Stevens said, WSU just finished $130 million in upgrades to Martin Stadium and the university’s football facilities. Why continue to take away one of those home games?

“We were able to invest the extra monies that we were realizing from (Seattle games and TV contracts) to help build $130 million worth of facilities for the football program and Martin Stadium,” Moos told ESPN this week. “We’ve got enthusiasm now. We’ve got energy. I think we’ve done a good job of creating exposure in the western side of the state — which we’ll continue to do — we’re just not going to bring a football game over anymore.

“It just felt like it was time to bring everything home.”

Before Thursday’s game, the Cougs were 6-5 in the annual Seattle Game, most recently losing 55-17 to Sanford last season. There was no Seattle Game in 2010.

Thursday’s final game in Seattle, against Rutgers, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field — the same time the Seahawks and Raiders kick off their preseason game in Oakland. The Cougars game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.