This is transit-related, stick with me.
Good for UW President Mark Emmert that he isn’t making renovation of Husky Stadium a priority. He certainly has bigger fish to fry. It seems pretty clear that UW should play their football games at Qwest Field, and I say this as a UW alumnus who goes to a couple of games a year.
- Qwest Field is an ultra-modern facility, state-of-the-art even for the NFL. In the article, it’s dismissed as “too small” for the UW fan base. The NFL seating capacity of Qwest is 67,000, compared to Husky Stadium’s 72,000. Wikipedia claims Qwest is expandable to 72,000 for “special events”, though; even if it’s not, I bet we can add 5,000 seats for less than the
$450m$300m in funds required to redo Husky Stadium. Furthermore, modern NFL stadiums have tons of luxury boxes that can generate big money for the program.
- Qwest Field is easier to get to. Its location in SODO is the hub of every transportation system in the region except the monorail: Link, buses, ferries, Sounder, Amtrak, and two interstates. Even students (a small fraction of attendance, though an important one) will be about 15 minutes away when U-Link opens in 2016. Compared to the series of bottlenecks in the Montlake area, there’s no comparison. Not only will traffic be less of a problem, traffic will be irrelevant due to the huge number of transportation choices.
- The land under Husky Stadium is too valuable, in every sense. Sitting literally on top of an underground rail station, there are far too many productive uses for this land to have it house a stadium used at most 6 or 7 times a year and a giant surface parking lot. If the UW didn’t want to build anything there to make the lives of their students and employees easier, simply selling the whole thing to a developer would probably patch that hole in the endowment pretty well.
Obviously, the third point also applies to Qwest Field. However, that merely emphasizes the importance of consolidating all of our rectangular-field sports into one venue. It seems obvious that if we are to do so, it should be into the facility that doesn’t currently require
$450m $300m in renovations.
UW pays a lot of lip service to environmental sustainability. Intelligent land use here would help them make that commitment a reality, even if it contradicts people’s sentimental attachment to the Montlake site.