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Turning the Tri-Cities into Pullman West
Written by EC Rules   
Thursday, 24 December 2009 17:24

So, in our last article we showed you how WSU is missing a huge opportunity that's just two and a half hours from campus. The Tri-Cities….home  of a quarter million people…..and 820 WSU football season ticket holders.


Well, the easy part is identifying the problem or the opportunity in this case. The bigger question is how do you solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity?


The key here is to avoid going conservative. Go heavy on presence and create real momentum around the brand across the community with a combination of events that span sports and seasons. We need to have it feel like we are a year round presence in the Tri-Cities and not just showing up when we need people to spend money on us.


Here are four things you could do in 2010 to make this happen:



1) Move the Spring football game to the Tri-Cities


In the Tri-Cities they have a football stadium called Lampson Field that is similar to Joe Albi in Spokane. It serves as the home for three of their high schools. It seats 6,800 people and has field turf. I've never been there but this sounds like the perfect facility to use for our Spring game.

We should move our final scrimmage of the season to the Tri-Cities and kick off our presence in the area. Make it a two day affair with a Friday open practice in which all season ticket holders and their families  are invited to walk the sidelines and have an autograph session with the players afterwards. That evening have a football event (feed and rally) with the coaches and make it a RAGER. Put it in that place where they debuted the new football uniforms this last year and provide a 20% discount on season tickets if you are a first-time buyer and you commit to buying them that night or at the Spring game.

Position the entire event around "Getting to know your 2010 Cougs" and focus on players from the area and how close Pullman is to Tri-Cities and how gameday Saturdays in Pullman are the best entertainment in Eastern Washington when the Fall comes.


There is no real reason to run the Spring game in front of a couple hundred fans in Pullman. Turn it into and opportunity to become a fabric of the Tri-Cities community.


2) Set-up a Thanksgiving mini-basketball tournament


Tony Bennett had the right idea two years ago when he put together a four team tournament in Spokane. He just had the wrong city. We saw the turnout and energy for a single Coug game this season. Stop thinking small like doing another game sometime in December in the Tri-Cities. Seize on the momentum and give the Tri-Cities an opportunity to embrace an entire tournament. See if they'll go crazy like Spokane did for the figure skating national championships (by the way….what the hell is wrong with you Spokane?!?!) and attend and cheer for all of the teams. Position it as the Tri-Cities hosting this tournament and work to really drive community engagement.

Focus on teams like Boise State, Montana, Wyoming, BYU, Seattle U, and Eastern Washington. Set them up with host families for Thanksgiving dinner like they do in Anchorage. Make it an experience that's fun for each team and make this something you can grow each year until you finally have 6-8 teams in two brackets and the budget to bring some bigger teams.


Again, this is about becoming part of the fabric of the community and not a bunch of carpetbaggers. Create a basketball tournament that the city can rally around and look forward to each year. Of course, we would benefit with a home town crowd when it would be impossible to get one in Pullman and travel that is an easy bus ride for the team.


3) Commit to a women's volleyball and soccer game in Tri-Cities


Provide an opportunity for the women and girls of the community to participate in Cougar pride. Do a clinic for each and let the kids interact with the players. Then play a game the next day and provide sections for each local high school so they can come watch and sit in a section that is just for their high school. Make it a fun social opportunity for parents to send their kids knowing they'll be safe and secure on a weekend night.


4) Play a WSU Baseball series in Tri-Cities


Play a baseball series in the Tri-Cities towards the end of the season. Do it when school is out in Pullman and temperatures have started to heat up. They have a minor league facility already present. Do a morning camp for baseballers and invite the varsity and junior varsity high school teams to the event.


5) Visit the local Chambers of Commerce


I'm sure there are plenty of Cougs that are involved. Present to them the plan that WSU has to bring attention to the community and business when we hold these types of events. Talk about what we would like to see in return for businesses through sponsorship and contributions to the Athletic Department. Ramp up business support and also come up with a plan for how they'll show their Cougar Pride during football season. The Tri-Cities should have each sign with a "Go Cougs" and lots of logos in windows. It's a small touch but it starts to establish the Tri-Cities as Cougar Country.




None of this is rocket science or a something that would require significant investment from the Athletic Department. Just an approach that all sports commit to playing a game in the Tri-Cities. As you saw earlier, this sort of effort has the ability to return millions of dollars to the program in the form of ticket sales and donations.


Let's just hope that someone in Pullman is already thinking about this and has a plan ready to debut soon. We can't afford to be asleep at the wheel any longer.

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Comments (3)
Good Post
1 Sunday, 27 December 2009 10:43
Great ideas! I enjoy reading your blog posts.
2 Sunday, 27 December 2009 14:21
Tim S.
I love all the ideas, particularly in moving the worst BCS spring football game in America to the Tri-Cities. I've never understood why this game (which draws 500 or so) is continually played in Pullman. I believe baseball had a series in the Tri-Cities recently. I'm not sure WSU has an administrator with the vision to make these things happen. A.D.'s come and go and they all still have the belief that the athletic department can be fully supported only in Whitman County, though this year's men's hoop schedule is a nice start. The sacred cow spring football game for some stupid reason will remain in Pullman. It's mind boggling.
3 Sunday, 27 December 2009 19:56
Glad you all enjoy the blog. Don't be afraid to tell your Coug friends. :) We're starting to drive great traffic and we'd like to have a community of more analytical Cougs that visit this site. At the end of the day, we believe our athletic administration needs to have a mindset that is closer to a start-up type of business rather than entrenched, old guard Fortune 500 company. Unfortunately, we are seeing a mix that is out of balance a bit right now. Hopefully that will change soon! If anything, this sort of challenge with budget makes you question "sacred cows" and "traditional" ways of doing things. Thank you both for the kind posts and Go Cougs!

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