Renovating and bashing Rich Linde, 19 January 2008
-- Funding from the state
legislature ($150 million)
The proposed funding approval from the
State Legislature, which is under consideration, would provide half the cost of refurbishing
and upgrading Husky
Stadium. According to the latest plan, the other $150 million would come
from private funds, for example, from donations, premium seating and naming rights.
The iconic landmark, Husky
Stadium, is crumbling as we speak. Does the State Legislature want to
see this local treasure bulldozed into Lake Washington? The fate of the
landmark seemingly rests in its hands -- unless someone can come up with
a better idea for funding.
The wobbly press box and
sponsors’ booths are a disgrace to prominent people staring out front
windows -- in this case an unenclosed press box that sits high in the air.
The background for a Fox TV broadcast emanating from the press box last
season seemed cast from the Great Depression.
The electrical system is not up
to code. There are exposed wires in the press area and elsewhere in the
Fans are literally shouldering
the burden of missing handrails. As they walk down stairs in the lower bowl, older fans and
the handicapped must rely for balance, if need be, on the shoulders of seated fans in
lieu of handrails, which are required by code.
The lower bowl was built in
1920, when Woodrow Wilson was president and prohibition was signed into
An aside: If Warren G.
Harding had been named Harry Harding we would have had four presidents
in a row who had first and last names that were
alliterations: Woodrow, Harry, Calvin and Herbert -- you know a memory
gimmick for a quiz show, say.
The track is antediluvian at
best, an eyesore on national television that presents an unrealistic
image of this modern-day university and its athletics program. Removing
the track and moving it somewhere else, while lowering the field, gets fans closer to the action.
Half of the cost of the new
football stadium at the University of Minnesota was financed by
Minnesota's State Legislature. So there is some precedence for the use
of public funds elsewhere, along with the seismic work done on the Bank
of America building.
Not raising the necessary public
funds most likely means that a move to Qwest Field is imminent and that scenic backdrop fans across the country have
grown to enjoy on certain Saturday afternoons will have vanished.
Unfortunately, repairing a
generic flaw in the stadium can't be done with a simple change to a
macro, like adding or changing a lower bounds check on a parameter. No negative
numbers, please. Each specific flaw, such as an exposed rebar, must be
The UW has a prominent,
highly-respected football coach in Tyrone Willingham, who is the
president of the American Football Coaches Association and one of just a
handful of African Americans who are head coaches in college football. A fully
modernized Husky Stadium would reflect, for one thing, on Willingham’s
contribution to the community, especially so, if he can resurrect the glory of
Washington by rebuilding the football team.
A winning football team next
season translates into more private dollars for the rebuilding fund. The
gods of football have blessed the Huskies with emerging superstar Jake
Locker, so that expectation is not altogether impossible.
Really, though, the return to
glory and the modernized stadium will go hand in hand, regardless of who
the coach may be, since the stadium transcends any of Washington's
present and former coaches.
According to an AP article
appearing on the UW website, "Money from King County hotel-motel,
restaurant and rental-car taxes and tax credits in King County already
are paying for new stadiums for baseball's Seattle Mariners and the
NFL's Seahawks, plus remaining debt on the now-demolished Kingdome. "
The UW would like to use
revenues from the expected three years remaining on the restaurant tax,
which is scheduled to payoff construction bonds for Safeco Field in
2012. The tax expires in 2015 and is estimated to bring in $20 million
per year. Likewise, the UW proposes to use funds from what is expected
to be the early expiration of the 2 percent hotel/motel tax. This tax is
paying off debts from the old King Dome. After the King Dome debts are
paid off, the tax revenues are scheduled to fund Qwest Field until 2020.
"After that, the UW would like to use it," the AP article says.
Preserving the iconic nature of
Husky stadium is for everyone in the northwest to enjoy, not just the fans, the alumni
and the donors to the university. Its unique beauty and on-campus
setting is without parallel in the United States.
Ensuring the viability of the
northwest’s crown jewel should be a no-brainer to the State Legislature.
-- Two different views of
While Rick Neuheisel’s virtual
carcass is being beaten well beyond life after death in Seattle, the
real Rick is sporting a new image, thanks to the Los Angeles Times. Bill Plaschke, formerly of the
Post-Intelligencer, recently wrote that the “Old college try is working
for Neuheisel,” that he took a shot at getting Ken Norton and now he’s
going after Norm Chow. A couple of days before, Kurt Streeter of the
Times wrote fondly about Neuheisel’s stint at Rainier Beach high school.
In other words, the LA Times is
giving Neuheisel good copy, while Seattle’s media are still throwing mud
at Rick – nothing new here as far as the Seattle media goes.
I remember when Rick first came
to Seattle; it was a much different atmosphere then, compared to the one
his fawning media in LA is presenting. The fraternity brawl, just off the
front burner, was his fault, they said. Another blot on his record, one
P-I reporter wrote. The quiet day visits were sensationally overplayed. Rick had yet
to coach a game at Washington. Why all of the bashing back then? Answer: Follow the money.
Back in 1999, the leader of the
piranhas, columnist Art Thiel, was overwhelmed by RN’s “million-dollar” salary, and he
still is today, blaming Rick and Barbara Hedges for the escalation in college
football salaries. The influential, venerable gent is lost in his Watergate
metaphors -- stale leftovers from the seventies. [*]
We can go on and on about the
local media here: Rick’s miraculous appearance and the eavesdropping;
the Hamlet and Millen editorials; the double standard for Rick and job
seeking; the inflated moneys postured in the auction stories; Brand’s
early-on quotes about Rick; overplay of the Feel-Good episode;
presenting just one side to the ambiguous gambling rule; an apparent
collusion with the NCAA and its gumshoe operation, etc.
Even Rick's two-year stint at
Rainier Beach high school was met with scorn by at least one Seattle columnist.
"This is the same guy who NCAA audio
tapes show repeatedly lied about his involvement in a
big-time college betting pool. This is the guy who
ducked whether he was interviewing for a pro football
gig while still coaching the Huskies. This is the guy
who got caught in mess after mess, fib after fib -- and
bobbed and weaved and deceived his way out of it," a
Seattle columnist wrote. [Jamieson].
The latest kerfuffle made over Rick -- reflecting
somewhat negatively on his Seattle image -- concerns a former
player, Jerramy Stevens.
“I, for one, have no interest in
a return to those glory days of Rick Neuheisel Husky football, when UW
tight end Jerramy Stevens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run
after ramming his truck into a retirement home and leaving the accident
scene,” writes Julie Muhlstein of the Herald Net.
“(John) Wooden put a high value
on integrity; Neuheisel joins a high-stakes college sports betting pool.
Wooden believed in firm discipline; Neuheisel didn't, at least not when
Jerramy Stevens was involved,” writes blogger Seth Kolloen in the P-I
Gosh, I thought Lambo recruited
Stevens; I mean he’s not all Rick’s fault. ;-)
And what about UCLA sugar daddy
Sam Gilbert and UW’s March Madness memo, Seth?
Speaking of recruits, didn’t
Rick sign Nate Robinson? Wasn’t he the sparkplug that energized the
men's basketball team for several years?
There are lessons to be learned
from the Neuheisel debacle, that is, how it should have been handled and what
should have been done. Blaming Neueheisel for the current state of
affairs at Montlake is counterproductive. As usual, the unique Seattle
sports media, one of a kind in the country, isn’t helping UW return to
its glory days.
These references below represent diametrically
opposing views of Rick:
[Jamieson]. Jamieson, Robert L., "High
school should have passed on Neuheisel," The Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, August 25, 2003.
[Streeter]. Streeter, Kurt, "Neuheisel's
comeback had a rather humble beginning," The Los Angeles Times,
January 13, 2008.
[*| In addition to Rick's salary, the Huskies
agreed to payoff in three installments an $800 thousand home loan
Neuheisel secured when coaching at Colorado. His initial salary of $870
thousand per year was augmented by $100 thousand in incentives -- which
he ended up earning for two years.