Martin Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium in Pullman, Washington, on the campus of Washington State University. It is the home field of the Washington State Cougars of the Pacific-10 Conference. The FieldTurf playing field runs an unorthodox east-west, at an elevation of 2520 feet (768 m) above sea level.
The stadium is named after Clarence D. Martin, the governor of the state of Washington from 1933–41, and a former mayor of Cheney, near Spokane and ironically, a graduate of the University of Washington. Martin Stadium opened on September 30, 1972, with a disappointing loss to Utah. Two and a half years had passed since its predecessor, the wooden Rogers Field, was significantly damaged by fire, a suspected case of arson. The WSU Cougars played all of their home games at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane in 1970 and 1971.
As of 2006, the stadium has a seating capacity of 35,117. Since the renovation of Reser Stadium at Oregon State, Martin Stadium has fallen to last in seating capacity among Pac-10 football stadiums. The current attendance record was set during the championship year of 1997, when WSU beat Stanford in front of 40,306 fans on November 15. (The ’97 Cougar team won the Apple Cup in Seattle the following week to win the Pac-10, and played in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years.) Despite the relatively small size of Martin Stadium, it has one of the highest ratios of seating capacity to population base; almost 1.6 seats per every citizen in the city of Pullman, and a seat for everyone in Whitman County.
Martin Stadium was the first college football stadium to expand by removing its 400 meter running track and lowering the playing field, in this case by 16 feet (5 m). This modification in 1979 added over 12,000 new seats, most of which were closer to the field (and the opponent’s bench). The first game following the renovation was played in October 1979, a victory over the UCLA Bruins. Following a 10-3 season and an undefeated home campaign in 2003, Martin Stadium was ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the toughest stadiums for visiting teams in college football.
Sharing with a Rival
For two and a half seasons, 1999-2001, the Idaho Vandals of nearby Moscow borrowed Martin Stadium to use as its home field, as Idaho transitioned from Division I-AA up to I-A. At the time, the Vandals’ Kibbie Dome was too small to support the NCAA’s attendance requirements for Division I-A. The attendance criteria for Division I-A (FBS) was changed and Idaho is now a member of the WAC in Division I FBS, and uses its own facility.
Washington State and Idaho renewed their dormant football rivalry in 1998, and matched up annually in the Battle of the Palouse for a decade. The game was played at Martin Stadium in September, although the 2003 game was curiously played far from the Palouse, 300 miles (480 km) west at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. After a ten year renewal, new Vandal head coach Robb Akey, a former WSU defensive coordinator, stated that he preferred the game not be played every year. The game was last played in 2007.
References: Wikipedia.org (Martin Stadium)