I have a hard time really being too nostalgic about last week being the last game in Old Husky Stadium, because it’s KIND of a dump that never manages to sell out and it’s ABOUT time the thing had a fresh coat of paint slapped on it.
Let’s face facts: you need every competitive edge you can get in the Pac-12. Oh sure, we could hang onto Old Husky Stadium and still beat out the likes of Wazzu, Oregon State, and the mountain schools; but we’re not here to be the kings of the Loser Schools! We want to get back to going to Rose Bowls on a consistent basis. That means matching amenities with the big boys: Oregon, USC, UCLA. It’s the same reason you build quality workout areas, why you wear Nike products in spite of the fact that Nike is our worst nightmare thanks to Phil Knight, why you create all these alternate jerseys and showcase them on the biggest games. You need to go above and beyond all the other schools in making your team look attractive to incoming freshmen.
So, believe me when I say this: fixing Husky Stadium is the best thing for EVERYONE. Between this, Coach Sark being able to attract higher quality talent, and this recent upswing of success on the field: it’s only going to improve the team exponentially going forward. That, in turn, excites the fans already here and, hopefully, brings in some new fans (and brings back some old fans who’ve stopped coming to games). With New Husky Stadium selling out, that’s going to make the gameday experience that much better and more electric, which in turn should help out the team on the field that much more. It’s cyclical, really. It’s just another step on our road back to being elite, but it’s also the step that’s landing on the accelerator, that’s causing the car to go faster and faster down the freeway.
But, sure, I get it. It’s the “end of an era” of sorts. This year-plus break in between games at Husky Stadium signifies a huge divide. Out with the old, in with the kick-ass. There were a lot of great times in Old Husky Stadium. Not as many with me, personally, because I’ve only been a fan since 1999 or so; but a helluva lot for people who’ve been on the bandwagon for generations.
I don’t have a lot of specific memories of Old Husky Stadium because my brain is one big cloud of drunken disaster. Like the game back in college where a friend and myself chugged 40s, then walked over on the Burke Gilman Trail from Mercer 4-West (R.I.P.) blasted out of our minds. I’m pretty sure we were passed out for the entire first half of that game.
My happiest memory would probably have to be in 2003. I graduated that May, but most of my friends were still in school, and still sneaking me into the Student Section thanks to an old Husky ID card I found on the ground. On November 22nd, we hosted the Cougars in the Apple Cup. As chances would have it, that was my very first Apple Cup (I didn’t go to a terribly high amount of football games during my college career because I was broke and spending whatever money I could scrounge up on these things called “music CDs”). I don’t know if we were heavy underdogs, but I’m pretty sure everyone was picking the Cougars to win. After all, we were coming into the game 5-6 and flirting with our first losing season in 27 years; they were coming into the game 9-2 and (according to the ESPN game article) the 8th ranked team in the nation. Going into the 4th quarter, the Cougs had a 16-7 lead with the Dawgs stumbling all over themselves at every turn. A powerhouse final period righted that wrong, and I – along with hundreds of my fellow Huskies – got to dance on the field after the game. Say what you will about the overuse of college fans rushing the field/court after a game, but when you’re involved and excited beyond all rational thought, there’s no better moment in sports.
There have been other games, both triumphant (2009 vs. Arizona) and pathetic (2010 vs. Stanford; 2008 vs. Notre Dame), but more than anything I’ll remember all the laughs and great times I’ve had with my friends (and that one game this year against Eastern with my dad and brother as well). All the tailgates, the beer pong and flip cup, the peeing on trees, throwing the football around, getting there at 7am for a 7:30pm kickoff, blacking out in a Port-A-Potty, scalping tickets & driving the cost down to a reasonable $20 level, stumbling down to the stadium with the other drunks in eager anticipation of hearing that siren and knowing the Good Guys just scored again.
Standing and yelling until you feel your legs are going to fall off and your lungs are going to explode. Freezing your ass off in a constant drizzle; returning home with a blistering sunburn on your face. Running to The Zone during halftime to chug a couple more cocktails and then running to get in line for the bathroom before the 2nd half. The Husky band drumming before each kickoff as everyone in the stadium does that weird salute thing with their hats or bare hands. Only knowing the words “Fuck Waz-zu!” and the actual title of the song “Bow Down To Washington”. Hoping JUST THIS ONCE that one of the hot cheerleaders forgets to wear panties.
That’s all still going to be there when the 2013 season starts! It’s going to be just as good as it ever was, only it’s going to be so much BETTER. Yeah, the tickets will
probably cost more and the stadium itself will have a corporate sponsor. But, it’s a small price to pay for continued success. Continued excellence.
The other schools in the Pac-12 will know, once again, what it’s like to Bow Down To Washington.