Martin Stadium – Washington State Cougars
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Cougar Pride in Pullman
Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington is the home field of the Washington State Cougars football program, and currently has a capacity of 32,952, which is the smallest in the PAC-12 by far (over 10,000 less than either Reser Stadium or Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of Oregon State and Utah respectively). The venue opened in 1972, and is named after Washington former governor Clarence D. Martin. Martin Stadium has undergone multiple renovations in the past 10 years, including new concessions and restrooms, upgrades to the scoreboard, and construction of a public plaza outside the stadium, which houses an 11-foot tall bronze cougar statue. The most recent set of renovations were completed in 2014, and consisted of a new football operations center in the west end zone.
Food & Beverage 5
Even though it is a relatively small venue, Martin Stadium has everything you could want from concessions and then some, including a wide range of both food and beverages at very reasonable prices. There are concession stands all over the stadium, most of which are on the upper concourse, but with a few closer to field level. Food options include German sausage, Italian sausage, hot dogs, pizza, beef brisket or smoked turkey sandwiches from the carvery, nachos, mac and cheese, chili, soup, soft pretzels, popcorn, kettle corn, peanuts, boxed candy, churros, caramel apples, cotton candy, ice cream sandwiches, and fresh-made mini donuts while you wait. These items range in cost from $3 up to $10, but the best deal is probably the 2 slices of pizza for $5.
There is no alcohol available at Martin Stadium, but there is a wide selection of hot and cold beverages for sale. Beverage choices include Coke products in bottles or from the fountain, bottled water, PowerAde, frozen or fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea, coffee, and hot cocoa; drink prices range from $3 to $7.
Martin Stadium offers a typical game day experience, but with a few bells and whistles to make your visit more enjoyable. The venue is laid out in a U-shape, with the football complex in the west end zone. Most of the seats are along the sidelines, with only a short row of seats in the east end zone, above which sits the scoreboard. The scoreboard itself is pretty massive, and can be easily seen by most fans, except those in the east end zone (who are basically underneath it). For this reason sideline seats are your better option, or you can stand along the concourse in front of the football complex.
The most distinguishing feature at Martin Stadium is probably the 11-foot bronze “Cougar Pride” statue in front of the ticket office; a lot of stadiums have statues out front, but this is one of the biggest I have seen. Besides the statue, though, the staff does a great job with pre-game entertainment, starting with the festivities out on the practice field before the game, followed by the band formations before the team comes on the field, especially the giant “W.”
The pre-game festivities culminate when the players rush out, and this is definitely the most entertaining part of the night. Led by the mascot piloting his unique 3-wheeled car, the team runs onto the field through cones spurting fire, all accompanied by the pep squad trailing flags spelling the word C-O-U-G-S, complete with giant WSU banner. The latter display will be repeated after every WSU score, along with fireworks, which are always fun to watch.
Besides Washington State University, there is not a ton to do in Pullman, which is well off the beaten path, and far from any major cities. If you are going to be in town for the day or weekend, though, there are some hiking trails around, and your typical small town entertainment such as mini golf and an arcade, as well as a variety of restaurants. There are several fast food joints in Pullman, a couple of Asian restaurants, and a few upscale eateries, but not much in the way of your traditional sports bar that would make a good hangout for before or after the game. Your best bet on this score is Paradise Creek Brewery, a brewpub housed in the old post office. Paradise Creek features lots of beers on taps, as well as traditional pub fare such as burgers and nachos, plus some upscale options like seafood and pasta.
If you are looking for something lower key, however, Stella’s Calzone & Pizza is also a good place to try. Located on Main Street not far from Martin Stadium, Stella’s has great food and a small beer selection, and even has a kid’s menu. Most of the hotels are on that side of town as well, including a Quality Inn and a Holiday Inn.
Martin Stadium has a good crowd, typically bringing in 25-30K fans, which averages well over three-quarters full. About half of the games each year will be sell-outs, which isn’t surprising given the high quality opponents they see in the PAC-12. The biggest game every other year is of course the Apple Cup against in-state rival Washington, but even FCS match-ups will have a great draw, so the experience and crowd noise won’t vary much from game to game. That said, if you are planning to visit Martin Stadium, you may as well choose a less prestigious opponent, when tickets won’t cost quite as much or be so hard to come by.
Pullman is not easy to get to, and you will face a long, boring drive from nearby big cities like Spokane or Seattle, which are the closest major airports. Furthermore, Martin Stadium’s capacity is actually larger than the population of the town, so traffic on game day will be a little hairy, as the town is not really equipped to handle this many people on the regular. Once you get to the stadium, however, parking is easy enough to find, and at $20 is no more expensive than at most similarly-sized stadiums, but you can’t get very close unless you have a pass, and those are hard to come by. Most fans park on the south side of the stadium (along Olympia Ave), but there are also park and ride shuttles that go a lot further out; parking is much cheaper that way but a lot more of a hassle in my opinion, with the extra time to ride the shuttle back and forth.
Once you get inside the stadium, though, moving around is easy enough. There are plenty of concessions stands and bathrooms, and the concessions stands are arranged in such a way to minimize congestion, with some along the sides and others in the middle of the concourse. There are also gates all around the stadium, so getting in and out is simple.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to games at Martin Stadium are $30 for end zone seats, and start at $50 for sideline seating. This is on the low end for college football, but whether it is a good value for the money or not depends on how far you are coming. The in-game experience here is really solid, but getting here can be a bit of a hassle with the potentially long drive, heavy traffic in town, and the parking situation. If you are looking for additional football options, there are several other venues nearby, such as the Kibbie Dome just across the river, or Roos Field closer to Spokane, both of which offer their own unique features and have less traffic, and may cost a little less to attend. There are also lots of other WSU sports right here in Pullman, which tend to have smaller crowds and lower prices at the gate.
Being able to see great teams come through is a real plus, and the fact that any game will offer the same type of experience is a nice bonus, since that allows you a lot more flexibility in planning when to come. The pre-game festivities are also really impressive, especially all the fun taking place on the practice field right next to Martin Stadium. The cougar statue is also a great place to snap a few selfies.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Residence Inn by Marriott Pullman
1255 NE North Fairway Dr
Pullman, WA 99163
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pullman
1190 SE Bishop Blvd
Pullman, WA 99163
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