Traveling to Pullman to attend a game is an event in itself. It isn't on the way to anywhere; if one ends up in Pullman they have a purpose. For thousands of fans six Saturdays a year, that purpose is to attend one of the better parties in the Inland Northwest.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
This rating is for the food available in the stadium. The food and beverages available pregame are rated below in the "Extras" section.
Visitors at Martin Stadium aren't going to find a fancy club or an elaborate all you can eat buffet like I had the pleasure of experiencing in the Don James Center at Husky Stadium. There isn't a sushi stand, and alcohol isn't going to be found. What it does offer is the normal stadium fare at reasonable prices. Hot dogs, sausages and basic nachos are $2 to $3, while small pizzas are $5. They also offer candy, popcorn and assorted soft drinks. Lines are typically short and quick, but be prepared if you are going for a hot dog at halftime.
While the weather for early-season games calls for shorts, a jersey and their specialty lemonade, it does get cold during the fall. Bundle up, wear gloves, and make sure to get a collectible mug of hot chocolate. It is a very popular item; while it is good quality, I'm convinced a lot of fans buy it as a hand-warmer.
When the stadium is empty it is not the most aesthetically pleasing venue. The metal bleachers wrap around in an aluminum haze, giving an institutional feel. When full, or at least populated with a normal crowd, it becomes electric.
The fans are all about the party and supporting their team. Winning or not, the feeling of family and Cougar Pride is very evident. Before the game many fans will wander between tailgate parties. While it is polite to carry your own beverages, fans are happy to share a drink and a bite to eat. They are even welcoming of respectful fans from the opposing team, so long as they aren't wearing purple.
The metal stadium bleachers help with crowd noise. The students are loud and rowdy, as are those at most any college campus. Their energy spills over to the rest of the crowd.
Martin Stadium doesn't have the classic size or feel of a large Pac 12 stadium. It doesn't carry the nostalgia of The Horseshoe. It also lacks the amenities found at most newer stadiums, such as extensive luxury boxes and club sections, though they are raising funds for a major renovation to add them.
The stadium was renovated in 2006, and features large, clean bathrooms and concession areas. A 50' X 25' LED video scoreboard was added in 2008, temporarily providing the best graphics in the Pac 12. The small venue keeps fans close to the field and all seats offer great sightlines.
No offense is intended for Pullman; it is a great college town. However, there just isn't much around the stadium aside from University buildings, apartment houses and fields. There are a few restaurants and taverns nearby, and there is a grocery store on the way to the stadium for fans that need additional provisions. But the bulk of Pullman's business district requires a bit of a walk from the stadium and primary parking areas. There are free shuttle buses for those that want to try their hand at the schedule.
Some form of tailgating is a must in Pullman. Whether one wants to set up their own area, wander to other fans' parties or visit the Fieldhouse, there are plenty of options. Please see the "Extras" section.
Being a Cougar is something that is simply in one's blood. Being a fan of the football team is every bit as passionate, but their games have been tough to watch in recent seasons.
Washington State won a total of five games between 2008-10. A few of their games had just 15,000 fans in attendance, thanks in part to students opting to not stay in town a few extra days after the end of the semester. Typical attendance fills around 27,000 of the 35,000 seats.
The fan base is very involved in the games. Despite the relative small crowd, the stands are close to the field and it gets noisy. Fans are loud when the opposing team has the ball, but quiet when the Cougar offense is at work. They do get involved with the "and that's another COUGAR"¦FIRST"¦DOWN" chant.
Anyone that has watched an episode of ESPN College Gameday since 2003 has no doubt seen the WSU flag being flown in the background by a dedicated fan.
The score for access has everything to do with the distance it is to travel to Pullman. It is 90 miles from Spokane and roads can be a bit brutal late in the season. Fans travelling from other Pac 12 schools will have a really long drive, unless they opt to fly. Most fans opt to fly into Spokane and drive from there. Be sure to allow plenty of time, though, as the highway into Pullman does get backed up.
Parking can be tricky around the stadium for fans that don't arrive early. There are some free lots (the Alumni Building lot is popular), along with street parking. The lots that do charge are reasonable and decent proximity can be had for $10. Lots generally don't allow tables, chairs or tents to be set up, but it does happen.
There are dedicated RV lots with ample room, and the ability to park for the weekend makes it an attractive option. However, passes can be difficult to get ahold of.
The cost to attend a game in Pullman is very reasonable. One of the biggest expenses will be the gas money to get there. Tickets are readily available, whether through ticket brokers, online auction sites or direct from the University. Tickets start at $20 for adults or $15 for children under 18.
Prior to the game a fan can spend $20 and have a good meal and several beverages. $10 in the stadium is sufficient for most fans, particularly if they eat prior to the game.
One item that is special in Pullman is their pavilion area. There are numerous corporate tents for private functions, but Hollingbery Fieldhouse is open to the general public and admission is free. It opens 3.5 hours prior to kickoff and stays open for 90 minutes after the game (excluding night games). Â There is a solid variety of vendors selling food and beverages, along with live entertainment.
Weather in the Palouse can hit both extremes during football season. The game I just attended required sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, as temperatures were in the 90's. Last fall, temperatures were in the 20's, and the wind will swirled in the stadium. Check the weather report carefully and plan ahead.
The stadium in Pullman has just received a new $65 million upgrade with a new luxury suite/Press box building on the south end. A new Football operations building will start construction once the 2012 season is ended.
The fan fare prior to the game has expanded with kids games and activities taking place adjacent to the stadium. Many food booths and beverage options are available in the field house prior to the game. Pullman has a different flare to the game experience with over 300 motor homes/ campers parked in the various lots around the stadium. This is known as Camp Coug. Many fans travel from the Seattle area and use their motorhomes to stay in and park locally during off weekend games. It is a very lively area and gives a new meaning to tailgating.
Martin Stadium is one of the few stadium located in the very center of the university campus. Buses run from Wal Mart and many shopping areas around town to the game to alleviate the parking issue and often free.
If you require a motel prior to a game, you may need to find one in Lewiston Idaho or Clarkston, Washington which are 30 miles away. Spokane is the nearest major city, about 70 miles to the north.
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