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July 17, 2003
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
One of the fiercest small college rivalries in the country and the second-biggest college football rivalry in the state of Washington goes to Seattle on Oct. 4 when Western Washington University faces Central Washington University at Seahawks Stadium.
The two NCAA Division II schools and First and Goal, Inc., reached agreement this week on the "Battle in Seattle: Which side of the mountains are you on?" which is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff at the 67,000-seat stadium that was completed in 2002 at a cost of $360 million.
"This event brings the biggest game of our season to Seattle where there are many alumni, parents and friends of both universities within easy driving distance," said Western director of athletics Lynda Goodrich. "For the spectators, student-athletes and coaching staff, the opportunity to play in a venue like Seahawks Stadium is one that can't be matched.
"I'm hoping that we will challenge the record for attendance at a Division II football game and that this can become an annual event."
The game came about in part because of the two schools being scheduled to face each other twice during the regular season for the first time since 1970. Western is hosting Central on Oct. 25 in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest, and Central marketing officials suggested using the non-conference matchup originally scheduled for Ellensburg be used for a new event.
"This is exciting," said Western head football coach Rob Smith. "It will not only provide great exposure for both programs, but a great stage for what is truly one of the best rivalries in Division II football."
The two schools first met in 1922 and have played every year since 1946, but this is the first time they have met twice in regular season since 1970.
Western director of athletics marketing Steve Brummel said two benefits emerge from the game.
"On one level, the game sells out every time it's played at Western or Central, so this gives us a chance to make it even bigger," he said. "Second, it is really nice to work with the folks at Central instead of always being adversarial. Working together has been very fruitful."
The idea for the contest is based on a similar game played between two NCAA Division II rivals in the midwest. Pittsburg State, Kans., and Northwest Missouri State played in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium last Oct. 17, drawing a crowd of 26,695. The two teams are meeting again at Arrowhead in the second annual "Fall Classic" this season.
Tickets for the Western-Central "Battle in Seattle" can be purchased beginning Aug. 2 through TicketMaster and at the Seahawks Stadium box office. They are priced at $25, $20, $15 and $10.
Western students can purchase a season pass to all Viking athletic events for $50 that includes a $10 general admission ticket to the contest.
Only the 100 and 200 sections in the lower bowl will be sold, with Western fans sitting on the west side and Central supporters on the east side. The end zones will be used just for overflow.
Western finished 6-4 last year, losing 35-28 to the Wildcats at Ellensburg. Central had an 11-1 record, reaching the first round of the NCAA II playoffs.