Murphy: Let's be honest, Boise really isn't a football town

bmurphy@idahostatesman.com© 2009 Idaho StatesmanOctober 31, 2009 

Time for a hard truth: Boise is not a football town. If it were, the sixth-ranked Boise State football team with its Heisman Trophy candidate would be selling out games at 33,500-seat Bronco Stadium.

If it were, the ticket department would not have to resort to a buy-three, get-one-free "Tick-et Treat" offer to lure people to the San Jose State game.

If it were, there wouldn't have been large pockets of empty seats for games against Miami (Ohio) and UC Davis.

If it were, tickets would not remain for every home game on the schedule, including rival Idaho.

You: Wait, it's the recession.

Me: Stop. You don't have ...

You: It's high ticket prices.

Me: You don't have to start spouting ...

You: Bad opponents.

Me: You don't have to start spouting reasons why you're not going.

You: But ...

Me: OK. Go ahead.

You: Bad economy. High ticket prices. Bad opponents. It's Halloween. It's cold.

Me: Feel better?

You: Yeah.

OK, but you do realize this is one reason why the Broncos are unlikely to be selected as an at-large team by a BCS game? Why, even if the Broncos are ranked higher, a team like Penn State or Ohio State or Notre Dame is certain to get selected first?

People are noticing the empty seats - and not just those bowl officials in the odd-colored blazers who visit this time of year. "Obviously, we wish we'd sell out all our games," coach Chris Petersen said. "You'd love it to be packed."

Boise State added 1,500 bleachers to the south end zone this year - and hasn't sold out the stadium except for the season opener against Oregon. As of Friday afternoon, the Broncos had roughly, you guessed it, 1,500 tickets available for the San Jose State game.

What's going to happen if and when the school expands the stadium?

Sure, ticket prices might drop a bit (don't hold your breath), but are another 5,000 or 10,000 people going to show up for a game against 1-5 San Jose State?

They show up in Lincoln, Neb., and Norman, Okla., just to name a few cities of similar or smaller sizes where the home team is often favored by three or four touchdowns and the weather is often brutal and the tickets aren't cheap.

Those are football towns, where kids are raised in Cornhusker cribs and old men are laid to rest in Sooner caskets. Where the waiting list to purchase season tickets is long - and getting longer.

It's OK that Boise isn't a football town. Really, it is.

The city and the entire Treasure Valley have plenty of things going for it. Good things. Great things. All sorts of things that don't involve the blue turf at the corner of Broadway and University.

But we do need to be honest: Boise is not a football town.

We like our football and plenty of people love the Broncos, more than enough to create a homefield advantage at Bronco Stadium. Plenty don their blue and orange and have an opinion on the Broncos.

But Boise is an event town. The Oregon game was an event. The Rolling Stones at the Idaho Center was an event. The 2007 Fiesta Bowl was an event.

Boise State-San Jose State? Not an event.

No, just a Saturday day game with great football weather, a Heisman Trophy candidate and the No. 6 team in the country trying to extend its unbeaten streak to eight games and keep its BCS chances alive.

In a football town, they'd call it an event.

What's more, they'd call it a sellout.

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