South endzone exterior in 2012
|Location||1400 Bronco Lane
Boise, ID 83725
|Broke ground||November 1969|
|Opened||September 11, 1970|
|Expanded||1975, 1997, 2009, 2012|
|Owner||Boise State University|
|Operator||Boise State University|
|Surface||Field Turf (blue) (2008–present)
AstroPlay (blue) – (2002–2007)
AstroTurf (blue) – (1986–2001)
AstroTurf (green) – (1970–1985)
|Construction cost||$2.3 million
($13.8 million in 2013 dollars)
|Architect||Sink Combs Dethlefs|
|Boise State Broncos (NCAA) (1970–present)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (NCAA) (1997–present)
Bronco Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium in Boise, Idaho, the home field of the Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West Conference. Since 1997, it has hosted the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Humanitarian Bowl from 1997–Jan. 2004 & 2007–10; MPC Computers Bowl from 2004–06), the longest-running outdoor bowl game in a cold-weather venue.
Opened in 1970, Bronco Stadium was also a track & field stadium; it hosted the NCAA track & field championships twice, in 1994 and 1999. The stadium was used extensively for local high school football for decades until August 2012, when games were transferred to the new Dona Larsen Park, which is also the new home venue of Boise State's track & field team.
Bronco Stadium is widely known for its unusual blue playing surface, installed in 1986 while in the Big Sky Conference. It was the first non-green playing surface (outside of painted end zones) in football history and remains the only one among NCAA Division I FBS schools.
Bronco Stadium is located at the east end of the BSU campus, bordered by Broadway Avenue to the east, University Drive to the south, and the Boise River to the north. The elevation of its playing field is 2,695 feet (821 m) above sea level.
Bronco Stadium is the fourth venue and second of the same name at Boise State; the three on-campus stadiums were built in 1940, 1950, and 1970, respectively.
Public School Field
During its first years at its original campus, BJC football was played at "Public School Field," located three blocks north-northeast of today's Bronco Stadium. The site was the home of East Junior High School from 1953 to 2009, and was remodeled and became Dona Larsen Park in 2012.
After the college moved to its present campus in 1940, "College Field" opened in September 1940 with lights and a seating capacity of 1,000. Also called "Chaffee Field," it was used through 1949 for junior college football (photo - 1940s). In the 1950s it became the baseball field, until right field was displaced by the construction of the Student Union Building, which opened in 1967. The baseball field migrated slightly east, then north, until it was eliminated in 1980 by the construction of the BSU Pavilion and the relocation of the tennis courts. (Baseball was dropped by both BSU and Idaho following the 1980 season; the Broncos played their home games at Borah Field during their final season.)
Bronco Stadium (I)
The first "Bronco Stadium" was built in three months in 1950 at the east end of campus, with wooden grandstands, a natural grass playing field, lights, and a cinder running track; seating capacity was 10,000. It was in approximately the same location as the present stadium, but aligned northwest to southeast. (photo - 1964) The 45-degree offset was designed to keep the mid-afternoon sun of mid-October out of the players' eyes (but put it into the eyes of half of the spectators). Through 1968, the University of Idaho Vandals usually played one home game per season in Boise, at the original Bronco Stadium. After Boise State joined the Big Sky in 1970, Idaho discontinued its practice of scheduling home games in Boise. (Idaho did use the new Bronco Stadium for a "home" game in 1971, but it was against Boise State in the first football game ever played between the schools. Idaho's new stadium on campus in Moscow was behind schedule so the university rented Bronco Stadium for its opening game. The underdog "visitors" of Boise State built a 28-7 lead at halftime and won handily 42-14 and a rivalry game was born.)
The Boise College football program upgraded from junior college to four-year status in 1968 and competed as an NAIA independent for two seasons. The school became Boise State College in 1969 and the Broncos were accepted into the NCAA in October. A month later they were voted into the Big Sky Conference, effective fall 1970. Following the 1969 football season, the first Bronco Stadium was razed in November and the new concrete stadium was ready for play in less than ten months.
Bronco Stadium (II)
Boise State began NCAA competition in 1970 in Division II ("College Division" prior to 1973) in a brand new venue. The first game at the new Bronco Stadium was on September 11, a 49–14 victory over Chico State. The $2.2 million concrete stadium opened with a seating capacity of 14,500 and a green AstroTurf playing field, configured in the traditional north-south direction, and an all-weather running track. For its first five seasons, the stadium consisted of two sideline grandstands, the west side having an upper deck and the press box. (photo - 1971) Boise State became a charter member of NCAA Division II when the NCAA reorganized the former College Division in 1973.
Following the 1974 season, the school's first as Boise State University, an upper deck was added to the east side (photo - 1971) - (photo -1975), adding 5,500 seats as well as symmetry to the stadium. The permanent seating capacity grew to 20,000 for its Bronco Stadium's sixth season in 1975, with up to 2,600 temporary seats available in the north end zone seating for bigger games. The original green artificial turf was replaced with the same in 1978 as the Big Sky Conference and the Broncos moved up to the newly formed Division I-AA. (photo - mid 1980s)
The Broncos moved to the Big West and Division I-A in 1996, which resulted in another stadium expansion. The two-tier grandstands were extended around the corners of the south end zone, raising the permanent seating capacity to 30,000 in 1997. The latest stadium expansion was completed in time for the 2008 season, with the addition of the Stueckle Sky Club press box, luxury suites, loge boxes, and club seating; raising the capacity to 32,000. In the summer of 2009, 1,500 additional bleacher seats were added to the south end zone to bring capacity up to 33,500. Prior to the 2012 season, expanded bleacher sections were added to the north and south end zones, expanding capacity to a total of 36,387.
Lyle Smith Field
During its eleventh season, the playing field at Bronco Stadium was named Lyle Smith Field during the I-AA national championship season of 1980. Ceremonies during halftime of the 14–3 victory over Nevada on November 8 marked the event. It honors Lyle H. Smith, the head coach from 1947–67 and athletic director from 1968–81, overseeing BSU's rise from the junior college ranks to Division I-AA champions in 1980. Smith led Boise, as BJC, to multiple post-season bowls, including the 1958 national junior college championship, and compiled an overall record of 156–26–8 (.848), which included five undefeated seasons and 16 conference titles. He was also the baseball coach for 17 seasons and served as basketball coach for a season at the school. Smith hired Tony Knap to replace himself as football coach in 1968, and Jim Criner to replace Knap in 1976.
Blue artificial turf
Bronco Stadium is best known for its distinctive blue playing surface, the only non-green football playing surface among Division I FBS programs.
Chris Berman of ESPN has also called Boise's turf "The Blue Plastic Tundra," a joking reference to "the frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field. Another nickname for the surface is "Smurf Turf." Players refer to it simply as "The Blue."
After 16 seasons of playing on standard green AstroTurf, athletic director Gene Bleymaier came up with the idea to install the blue turf. He decided that, if BSU was going to spend $750,000 on a new surface, he didn't want to see BSU install yet another green field, and that a blue field might provide some national notoriety for the school, then a member of the Big Sky Conference. Bleymaier gained the support of BSU President John Keiser, and on September 13, Bronco Stadium introduced its unique playing surface to the world with a 74-0 victory over Division II Humboldt State. (BSU was 4-2 at home in 1986, but managed just one road victory and posted their first losing record in four decades, resulting in the resignation of fourth-year head coach Lyle Setencich.)
BSU replaced the first blue AstroTurf with the same in 1995, then with blue Astroplay (a grass-like synthetic surface that is more forgiving than traditional AstroTurf) in 2002. The AstroPlay field lasted just six seasons and was replaced in the summer of 2008 with blue FieldTurf surface. Due to complaints by fans that the reflection and glare off the field gave the new field a dull and uneven shade of blue, FieldTurf agreed to replace the field free of charge. The fifth blue turf was installed in the summer of 2010.
The unique blue turf has spawned several myths. The most prevalent is that the NCAA subsequently banned playing surface colors other than green, but allowed Bronco Stadium's field to remain blue under a grandfather clause. In reality, the NCAA has never adopted such a rule. Any school may color its playing surface (or any part, mainly the end zones) any color it wishes. Indeed, other schools have non-green football fields including the University of New Haven (blue) and Eastern Washington University (red). On April 1, 2011, the University of Central Arkansas announced that they would install a purple and grey striped field to Estes Stadium. In 2012, Lindenwood University in Belleville, Illinois, played their first football season, on a home field with alternating maroon and gray stripes. Ten high schools also have non-green fields: Barrow High School in Barrow, Alaska, Lovington High School in Lovington, New Mexico, West Hills High School in Santee, California (alternating royal and sky blue every five yards), Hidalgo High School in Hidalgo, Texas (navy), Chaminade College Preparatory School in the Los Angeles neighborhood of West Hills, Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon High (red), Canutillo High School in El Paso, Texas, Ravenna High School (Ohio) in Ravenna, Ohio (blue), and West Salem High School in Salem, Oregon (black).
Another myth is that, mistaking the blue field for a large body of water, birds have flown into the blue turf and to their deaths. Although Broncos coach Chris Petersen claimed to have found a dead duck on the field in 2007, the origin of the duck on the field has never been confirmed.
BSU's blue turf has become such a highly visible icon for the Broncos that BSU obtained a U.S. trademark registration for a blue athletics field in November, 2009.
In 2011, the NFL banned any playing surface color other than green, naming the rule the "Boise Rule" in reference to the university, though this was more a reaction to sponsor influence as no team had ever proposed a different turf color for their field. Also in 2011, the Mountain West Conference banned Boise from wearing their all-blue uniforms during home conference games, after complaints from other Mountain West coaches that it was an unfair advantage. However, the uniform restriction will be removed from the 2013 season forward, as part of the deal that kept Boise State in the MW after it had originally planned to leave the conference.
As the Boise State football program rose to national prominence in the early 2000s, Bronco Stadium became increasingly insufficient. The school completed a 3-story complex on the stadium's west side called the Stueckle Sky Club (pronounced Stickle). Construction began on it on February 11, 2007, and it officially opened on August 27, 2008 with a gala for ticket holders prior to the first game on August 30. It features levels for a new press box, luxury suites, loge boxes, and club seating and increased seating capacity to 32,000.
The practice facility, named the Caven-Williams Sports Complex, officially opened in February 2006, and it is located immediately northwest of Bronco Stadium. Additional temporary seating of 1,500 was added prior to the 2009 season. The removable bleachers increased capacity to 33,500. Permanent bleachers were also added to the north and south end zones prior to the 2012 season, raising Bronco Stadium's capacity to a total of 37,000.
In late August 2010, new expansion plans were revealed for Bronco Stadium. The first stages were to include adding a new facility to the north endzone to house the football offices, weight room, training room, equipment room and locker room. Plans also included a 13,200 seat grandstand. The later stages of the expansion plan included removal of the track, lowering of the field, and adding 3,300 seats in front of the first deck of the stadium, completion of the south endzone horseshoe, building of an east side skybox, and renovation of the east side concourse. The total cost for all planned expansions was around $100 million. The total seating capacity for a fully expanded Bronco Stadium was estimated to be around 53,000. The Boise State athletic director aims to have the north endzone complex open in time for the 2013 season and does not resemble the 2010 plans.
During Boise State's recent streak of conference championships, Bronco Stadium has proven to be a tough place for opponents. As of November 20, 2013, the Broncos are 93–4 at home since the 1999 season with the only losses being to Washington State in 2001, AP #18 Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl, TCU in 2011 and to San Diego State in 2012. The Broncos won 47 straight home conference games from 1999 to 2011 and were undefeated in conference during their 10 years in the WAC (40–0). The Broncos are 90–3 in regular season home games since 1999. They had a winning streak of 65 regular season games from the 2001 to 2011 seasons. Their current home winning streak stands at 7.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bronco Stadium.|
- Bronco Sports.com – History of Bronco Stadium
- World Stadiums.com – Bronco Stadium
- The Broncos: A History of Boise State University, 1932-1994 - Sports Complex