After 651 days, Pullman ready to welcome WSU football fans back home

Cougar Football
Gesa Field at Martin Stadium
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SPOKANE, Wash — When Washington State football fans left Pullman after a thrilling win over Oregon State on November 23, 2019, none of them could have guessed a worldwide pandemic would keep them from their beloved Martin Stadium for nearly two years.

On Saturday, fans will be back in the stands for the first time in 651 days, cheering on the Cougs against Utah State.

It’s a welcome home for students, fans and alumni who make a weekend out of Cougar football. It’s also a huge boost for the town of Pullman, which sees an economic boost of more than a million dollars on those weekends.

A study from Moscow, Idaho-based labor market firm Emsi estimated Pullman would lose $13 million in economic impact if the pandemic kept fans away all season, which it did.

According to Emsi, “The off-campus expenditures of the university’s out-of-region visitors generated a net impact of $17.3 million in added income for the Pullman economy in FY 2018-19. This $17.3 million in added income is equivalent to supporting 385 jobs.”

Visitors spend money on lodging, food, transportation and other personal expenses.

The town also lost money during the pandemic as most of the classes were online and a lot of students weren’t living on campus.

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Students are now back on campus and, as of Friday afternoon, there were no capacity restrictions placed on fans heading to town for Saturday’s game.

Some schools in the Pac-12, including Oregon and Oregon State, are requiring fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to get in. WSU fans will have to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. That includes the suite-level hallways and the fieldhouse.

Thursday, RVs started rolling into the tailgate lots in large numbers, a sure sign football is back on the Palouse.

A quick search on Expedia Friday afternoon showed there are still some hotel rooms available for Saturday night, which is unusual for a football weekend. There are also still some rooms available for the weekend of the highly-anticipated USC game on September 18th.

You can read more about fan guidelines for Saturday’s game at this link.

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