Tuesday, July 04, 2006

...and now for something completely different.

A lot of discussion on the message boards this week questioning Todd Turner's leadership ability after the lame announcement that the renovation of Husky Stadium may be put off till Bill Fleenor is fitted for Purple and Gold "depends".

Todd's honeymoon is now officially over, and it was a long one. Sure the volleyball national championship was nice, but Race's prophecy that we are are being Vanderbiltized seems to have some teeth. What's next, a new pressbox for the softball stadium?

Huge question marks for me began to appear last Summer as the AD basically turned his back on helping to promote what amounted to be a home game against Air Force in Qwest. The game amounted to a huge black eye from the community, program, and of course relations with the Air Force Academy who were basically screwed in this deal put together by Hedges. 30,000 for a Husky home game on national TV? Nice message to send out to the nation Todd.

He did the same thing for the basketball program by not including the BCA tourney games as part of the season ticket package which resulted in dissapointing attendance figures.

The new 520, and the Montlake LR station of course are more important to the community then a venue that is used six times per year, but it seems the white flag went up a little too early on this one. In fact it went up before the effort to raise a single dime, or even reveal a glimpse of future plans were even made.

Two of the largest public contruction projects in the history of the region of course will make a huge impact, a big enough impact that it could even close down the stadium completely for a year, or two. Planners are faced with the problem that it may be just as difficult to get 70,000 into the stadium safely during construction as it will be to raise the 200 million plus it will take to remodel it. A Husky Stadium gone dark will raise the question of whether a seperate football stadium is even needed with Q-West downtown sitting there empty on Saturday's.

The core of Husky stadium is the original bowl contructed in 1920 which of course does not meet current earthquake standards, and like other facilities of its era is now starting to crumble from the inside. Excavating a massive subterranean transit station that will extend from the stadium to the Montlake Cut isn't going to do the crumbling foundation any favors.

The situation is similar to what happened in Minneapolis during the late 1970's, the ancient and historic college football stadium was razed, and the football team went a few blocks west to play in the new Metro Dome. The once mighty Minnesota football football program has never recovered from that move. Plans for a new on campus stadium are finally being realized thirty years later to right that wrong. Lesson learned, off campus football stadiums don't work very well. To be fair the Minnesota program actually started whithering in the late 60's due to the population shifts to the sunbelt, the harsh winters were a factor, the thought of playing indoors was thought to be a plus that could turn that around, but the atmosphere provided by an indoor stadium, as proven in Seattle was anything but collegiate. If you have ever seen a game in the Metrodome you realize that at best it is a poor mans Kingdome, the lack of lighting can actually put you to sleep while watching a game in there. Still history tends to repeat itself, and in 2015 the cost of renovating the stadium could approach 600 million to a billion dollars which could reasonably close the door on the subject forever.

I think if you read between the lines of Condotta's article you see a lot of resignation, and dissapointment, and you also realize that Todd Turner isn't a fighter, an able administrator, not a leader, or a fighter.

Can the program survive without a stadium upgrade?

I think it can under the right leadership, the question is whether we have the right leadership in place. I like Ty as a coach, I admire him as a man, but I have serious doubt's about his ability to create any type of buzz, or excitement around the program he is building.

I frankly expect more out of Turner, and Emmert than I have seen up this point. Enough of the light lip service, I want to see a master plan I can get behind. All we are getting at this point are muffled excuses. As I said the honeymoon is over, and I declare open season on the athletic administration at UW.

It is time to put up, or shut up.

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