Take a drive down Broadway Ave. in Boise and you are sure to come upon Bronco Stadium. One of the largest structures on Boise State University’s campus, the concrete stadium makes its presence known, but not particularly in a good way.
Opening in 1970, Bronco Stadium was built for a mere $2.2 million with a seating capacity of 14,500. The 1975 season saw its first expansion with the east grandstand adding an upper deck consisting of an additional 5,500 seats bringing the total capacity to 20,000. Bronco Stadium’s identity was created after the building of this concrete structure, but is it the identity we want our stadium to be known for?
After the expansions of the south end zone corners and permanent seating in both end zones, Bronco Stadium has become a hodgepodge of seats. From the northwest corner bleachers to the single-tiered, aluminum south end zone bleachers—which are significantly shorter than the concrete grandstands—expansion has completely erased the historical symmetry within the stadium.
In late August 2010, President Robert (Bob) Kustra revealed plans of a new vision for Bronco Stadium. The plans included removing the track, lowering the bowl seating 7-10 feet closer to the field, lowering the field accordingly, constructing a football facility in the north end zone, adding a wall of 13,500 seats over the new football facility, and adding a second skybox to the east grandstands. The total cost of the expansion is estimated at $100 million and will bring Bronco Stadium to 53,000 capacity.
Is this next round of expansions really what Bronco Nation wants to see? Are aluminum bleachers, mixed with concrete seats, and a wall of non-connecting bleachers in the North end zone the most logical choice for building a stadium to represent our football program and University? I would say no.
After analyzing dozens of stadiums throughout the nation, here is my ideal stadium:
To start, a complete teardown of the grandstands to start from scratch. Seating:
Reducing the number of seats in the upper deck and reducing the steepness would better serve Bronco Stadium. The lower bowl would be expanded to hold the majority of the seats in the stadium. Finally, both the lower and upper deck should connect continuously around Bronco Stadium to create a horseshoe, leaving the North end zone open to the Foothills and Boise skyline. A perfect example would be Illinios’ Memorial Stadium (minus the lack of a connected upper deck in the South end zone) andUPenn’s Franklin Field.
To reduce the steepness of the current Bronco Stadium, the field and east grandstands would have to move east towards Broadway Ave. A major benefit of this is the field would be better aligned with the new recruiting lounge windows.
The north end zone seating would also need to be built out in order to connect the lower bowl. The seats would have to reach the new concourse that would be built to create a perfect connecting circle, while not disrupting the view of the skyline. In a perfect world, Boise State creates field-level suites, similar to the Touchdown Terrace at Husky Stadium. They could connect at the bottom to the Bleymaier Football Complex, having the seats and concourse built above. The north end zone grandstands would go no higher than the top of the football complex and would have a true tunnel built out for our Boise State Broncos.
And with the full connection of the upper deck, Boise State could install a true ribbon board connected to the horseshoe.
Current Bronco Stadium lacks any sort of design creativity. No effort was made to cover the bare concrete or match any of the academic buildings on Boise State’s campus. Imagine driving down Broadway Ave. and seeing the new Bronco Stadium’s exterior covered in brick, metal panels, and blue tinted windows, similar to the Environmental Research Building adjacent to the stadium.TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota captured my vision: a uniform, academic style stadium with brick and glass, that opens to the Minneapolis skyline.
The south end zone has the most potential. Currently, the old 1970’s-style buildings sit in front of prime real estate in the stadium parking lot. What do most stadiums have that Bronco Stadium is missing? A grand entrance. This is where the south end zone comes into play.
The University of Alabama (yes, even though I do not like them) has what I consider to be the most beautiful entrance a stadium could have —The Walk of Champions.
The Walk of Champions comprises a brick plaza leading from University Boulevard to the north end zone entrances. The plaza features 16 granite monuments set into the walkway commemorating the Crimson Tide’s SEC and national championship teams. Now, Boise State does not have a storied past like Alabama, but tradition needs to be honored somewhere.
Close your eyes and envision University Drive being closed off in front of the stadium on game day; thousands of fans align on both sides of the brick walkway connecting the street to the stadium, inscribed with Boise State’s most famous players. The football team walks through a few hours before game time into the monumental glass entrance behind the steps leading up to Bronco Stadium. Hours later, those same steps are full of Bronco faithful dying to get to their seats.
Yes, I understand the stadium parking lot would be significantly reduced due to moving the east grandstands out, and cutting directly through the center of the parking lot, but wouldn’t it be worth it to see Bronco Stadium stand tall and proud?
Lastly, the build-out of the Stueckle Sky Center. Not much is needed, but completing an exterior design uniform to the rest of the stadium on the westside is key for Bronco Stadium. All that is needed is to cover up the PVC pipe-looking stilts the Sky Center sits on. Slap on some brick, metal panels, and blue-tinted windows, and you have yourself a good-looking stadium on the outside and in.
To tie into the theme of tradition that the new stadium is encapsulating, Boise State’s conference championships should be displayed on the Stueckle Sky Center. Directly above the first level is a more-than-welcoming space large enough to display Boise State’s 17 conference championships, from left to right, with room to continue adding. Nothing says tradition like proudly displaying your team’s accolades for all to see.
This has been a dream of mine, but it might not ever be built. Boise State just does not have the backing of power donors that other storied universities have. This would be near a $150 million undertaking and the state would never approve such a rebuild unless it was privately sponsored.
So what say you Bronco Nation? Do you like my vision of future Bronco Stadium? Do you like it the way it is? Or do you have your own design in mind? Whatever it may be, share it for the world to know because ultimately, we are the voice of change and the funders of the athletic programs at Boise State University.