Bronco Stadium 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 BSU Broncos of the Western Athletic Conference. Bronco Stadium is widley known for its blue playing surface instead of the traditional green surface of most other football fields. 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.
Bronco Stadium is best known for its distinctive blue playing surface, it being the only non-green football playing surface in the NCAA. The blue field, combined with the team's matching blue uniforms, give the Broncos a home-field advantage unlike any other. In fact, there are only four non-green football playing surfaces in the nation. The others are Barrow High School in Barrow, Alaska, Lovington High School in Lovington, New Mexico, and Hidalgo High School in Hidalgo, Texas. For years, the stadium has been known for its blue-colored artificial turf surface, nicknamed the Smurf turf after the fictional blue creatures created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo.
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 for end zone seating during 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 Conference 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.
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 8th marked the event. It honors Lyle H. Smith, the head coach from 67 and athletic director from 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.
In 1986, after sixteen seasons of playing on standard green Astroturf, the university installed the bright blue synthetic surface for which Bronco Stadium is often known for. It was replaced with the same in 1995, as a part of a two-year major stadium expansion which brought the seating capacity to 30,000 seats, as BSU transitioned to Division I-A status from Division I-AA's Big Sky Conference.
By 1997, the sideline grandstands had been extended to wrap around the corners of the south end zone, along the orange-colored Ed Jacoby Track. Also added were the Allen Noble Hall of Fame Gallery and the Larry and Marianne Williams Plaza to the southwest corner. Both are attached to the Nicholson-Yanke Athletic Center, an original part of the stadium, as is the Fedrizzi Fitness Center Annex (1988/2004) and the Bronco Football Complex (2000). Since the running track is still in use, the end zone seats remain temporary. The blue astroturf was replaced during the summer of 2002 with blue AstroPlay, similar to FieldTurf, a more forgiving synthetic field surface. The AstroPlay field lasted just six seasons and was replaced in the summer of 2008 with a fourth blue field, this time a blue-colored FieldTurf surface.
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.
BSU gameday program - Boise State vs. Nevada, Reno - 08-Nov-1980 - A Tribute to Lyle Smith, p.8
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