When I heard the Apple Cup was moving to Qwest Field, the first thought in my head was pretty much like Rick Neuhiesel’s in 2002:

“I just think it would be a terrific 50-50 split for the state. I think it would be a great thing for the schools, like they have in Dallas with Oklahoma and Texas.”

Sure, why not. Neutral field. Off-campus game. Special event.

Except, of course, we aren’t talking about a stadium that’s three hours away from each of the two campuses, but rather, in the same city as one school. Tickets would still be split, and I’m sure there’s plenty of Wazzu alums who live west of Spokane and up and down I-5, but in the end, UDub fans and UDub students end up being the ones who scrape up all the extra tickets – especially since they don’t have to pay for gas or find accomodations – and still get to enjoy the basic comforts of a home game. Ironically, Qwest Field is actually smaller than Husky Stadium, though considerably bigger than the one in Pullman.

More from the article linked above:

The programs currently split revenue, realizing about $240,000 apiece when the game is played in Pullman and $800,000 when it is played in Seattle. Officials at WSU and UW have cited a financial boost varying from $6 million to $10 million apiece over the six-year life of the proposed deal, accruing primarily from slightly more than 30,000 tickets sold to each side.

Which essentially means UW has been subsidizing its rival this whole time. You could almost call it college football socialism. I mean, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure Texas/Texas A&M and Ohio State/Michigan don’t split home revenue equally.

But if the surface story here is of an underfinanced farm school in Pullman putting itself at a competitive disadvantage as it’s further sucked into the vortex of overly commercialized college sports, in other ways the victims here are UDub’s alums and students. Road-tripping is half the fun of college football, and stadiums with character at least a quarter of it. Sure, I enjoy the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium, but my family’s trips to Madison and South Bend and Ann Arbor and Columbus and even L.A. Coliseum and the Orange Bowl are rarer and more memorable.

I also road-tripped up from Portland in 2007 to see Washington play USC, not because I cared about either team or expected a good game, but because I always wanted to take in that overhanging lakefront stadium, which I’d passed so many times while driving on highway.

But, blah blah blah, things change, money talks etc. Hopefully the two schools will become competitive in the Pac 10 while this is going on, because otherwise the extra revenue and guaranteed attention of the big-time “neutral” site could just serve as a cushion for continued mediocrity.