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Bronco Stadium
"The Blue"
Bronco Stadium November 14 2009.jpg
View from the east side of the stadium in 2009 against Idaho
Location 1400 Bronco Lane
Boise, ID 83725
 United States
Coordinates 43°36′10″N 116°11′45″W / 43.60278°N 116.19583°W / 43.60278; -116.19583Coordinates: 43°36′10″N 116°11′45″W / 43.60278°N 116.19583°W / 43.60278; -116.19583
Broke ground 1969
Opened 1970 - September 11th
Owner Boise State University
Operator Boise State University
Surface Field Turf (blue) (2008-present)
AstroPlay (blue) - (2002-07)
AstroTurf (blue) - (1986-2001)
AstroTurf (green) - (1970-85)
Construction cost US $2.3 million
Capacity 33,500 (2008-present)
30,000 (1997-2007)
20,000 (1975-95)
14,500 (1970-74)
Boise State Broncos (NCAA) (1970-present)
Humanitarian Bowl (NCAA) (1997-present)

Bronco Stadium (a.k.a. "The Blue")[1] is an outdoor athletic stadium on the campus of Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Primarily used for football, it is the home field of the Boise State Broncos of the Western Athletic Conference. Since 1997, the Humanitarian Bowl (called the "MPC Computers Bowl" from 2004-06) has been held at the stadium. It holds the distinction of being the longest-running outdoor bowl game in a cold-weather venue.

Bronco Stadium also serves as a track & field stadium; it has hosted the NCAA track & field championships twice, in 1994 and 1999.[2] The stadium is used extensively for local high school football.

Bronco Stadium is widely known for its unusual blue playing surface, installed in 1986 as the first non-green playing surface (outside of painted end zones) in football history and still the only one among NCAA Division I schools.



Bronco Stadium is located at the east end of the BSU campus, bordered by Broadway Avenue to the east and the Boise River to the north. The elevation of the playing field is 2695 feet (821 m) above sea level.[3]


Ground was broken in 1969 to replace the original Bronco Stadium, a small facility built in 1950 for junior college football. The Boise College football program upgraded to Division II in 1968 and the new $2.2 million concrete stadium opened in 1970 with a seating capacity of 14,500. The first game at the stadium was on September 11, with a 49-14 victory over Chico State. The original playing field was green AstroTurf and was configured in the traditional north-south direction. For its first five seasons, the stadium consisted of two sideline grandstands, the west side having an upper deck and the press box.

Following the 1974 season, an upper deck was added to the east side, adding 5,500 seats as well as symmetry to the stadium. The permanent seating capacity grew to 20,000 for 1975, with up to 2,600 temporary seats available in end zone seating for bigger games. The green AstroTurf was replaced with the same in 1978 as the Big Sky Conference and the Broncos moved up to the newly formed Division I-AA. The Broncos moved to the Big West and Division I-A in 1996, and the stadium was expanded again. The two-tier grandstands were extended around the corners of the south end zone, raising the permanent seating capacity to 30,000 in 1997.[4] The latest stadium expansion was completed in time for the 2008 season, with the addition of the Stuekel Sky Club press box, luxury suites, loge boxes, and club seating. In the summer of 2009 1,500 additional bleachers will be added to the South end zone. This expansion increases the stadium's capacity to 33,510.

The field was used by video artist Matthew Barney, in the first of his "Cremaster" videos.

During its eleventh season, the field 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 1947-81, overseeing BSU's rise from the junior college ranks to Division I-AA champions in 1980.[5] 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. [6][7]

Bronco Stadium's current attendance record is 34,127, achieved on September 3, 2009, a victory over the Oregon Ducks televised on ESPN.[8]

Blue turf

The current blue FieldTurf, seen here in 2009, was installed in the summer of 2008

Bronco Stadium is best known for its distinctive blue playing surface (nicknamed the Smurf Turf), 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.

After 16 seasons of playing on standard green AstroTurf, BSU Athletic Director Gene Blaymeier 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 the school some notoriety. Blaymeier gained the support of BSU President John Keiser, and in 1986 Bronco Stadium introduced its unique playing surface to the world.[9]

BSU would replace the original surface with blue AstroTurf 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.[10]

The unique blue turf has spawned several myths. The most prevalent myth 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, but until 2009 (when NCAA Division II University of New Haven also decided to install a blue turf)[11] only Boise State had chosen to use a non-green playing surface.

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[12], the origin of the duck on the field has never been confirmed.

In fact, there are only a handful of non-green football playing surfaces in the nation. The others include three high schools: Barrow High School in Barrow, AK, Lovington High School in Lovington, NM, Hidalgo High School in Hidalgo, TX, and one university: the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT.[13][14][15] Boise State's blue turf inspired the University of New Haven to install blue turf when they reinstated their football program in 2008.[16]

Current/Future expansion

Cavin-Williams Sports Complex
Stueckle Sky Club

As the Boise State football program saw a rise to prominence in the early 2000s, Bronco Stadium became increasingly insufficient. The school completed a new 3-story complex on the stadium's west side, the Stueckle Sky Club (pronounced Stickle), that features levels for a new press box, luxury suites, loge boxes, and club seating (in descending order) and which increased seating capacity to 32,010.

Another plan is to complete the stadium's horseshoe in the south end zone and round the corners in the north end zone leaving the middle open, so the stadium will still have the view of the Boise Foothills. With the additions, Bronco Stadium's capacity is expected to increase to around 50,000. The first of the planned additions, the press box, was approved funding in January 2007. The plans were announced around the time the university announced plans to build a new indoor practice facility.[17]

South end zone expansion

The practice facility, named the Cavin-Williams Sports Complex, officially opened in February 2006, is located immediately northwest of Bronco Stadium.[18] The press box facility, named the Stueckle Sky Club (pronounced Stickle) began construction on February 11, 2007, and officially opened on August 27, 2008 with a gala for ticket holders prior to the first game on August 30.[19]

1,600 seats were added in anticipation of the 2009 season. The removable bleachers were constructed in the South end zone during the summer of 2009, increasing Bronco Stadium's capacity to 33,610.

Home dominance

Bronco Stadium Fog Tunnel

During Boise State's recent streak of conference championships, Bronco Stadium has proven to be a tough place for opponents. As of December 5, 2009, the Broncos are 71-2 at home since the 1999 season with the only losses being to Washington State in 2001 and AP #18 Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl. The Broncos have not lost a home conference game since the season finale in 1998 (42 in a row). The Broncos are 68-1 in regular season home games since 1999 and are currently on a 56 game regular season home winning streak.


  1. ^ "Boise State Football: Bronco Stadium". The Official Athletics Website of Boise State University. Undated. Retrieved 2009-02-19.  
  2. ^ "Bronco Stadium "The Blue"". Boise State University Athletics. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  3. ^ "Earth Explorer: 43 36 21 N 116 11 50 W". USGS. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  4. ^ "Bronco Stadium "The Blue"". Boise State University Athletics. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  5. ^ BSU gameday program - Boise State vs. Nevada, Reno - 1980-11-08 - A Tribute to Lyle Smith, p. 8
  6. ^ "Lyle H. Smith collection". Boise State University Albertsons Library. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  7. ^ "Bronco Football: A Winning Tradition". Boise State University Athletics. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  8. ^ Cripe, Chadd (2009-09-04). "Boise State Broncos bash Oregon Ducks, enter BCS race again". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  9. ^ "Boise's Blue Field Turns 20". September 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-25.  
  10. ^ "Board OKs Boise State and U of I projects". Idaho Statesman. December 7, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  11. ^ "New Haven seeing blue". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  
  12. ^ "Bronco Stadium BSU". Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  13. ^ [1]"Lovington High School Stadium".][ Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  14. ^ Kamm, Grayson (November 4, 2007). "First Coast Makes Frozen Football Dream Come True". WTLV. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  15. ^ Perry, Daniel. "Districts pumping money into athletic facilities". Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  16. ^ Prater, Mike. "University of New Haven decides to go blue, too". Retrieved 2008-10-24.  
  17. ^ "Bronco Stadium addition coming along, but won't be done until 2008 season". Idaho Statesman. July 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-28.  
  18. ^
  19. ^

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