While workers scurry to put the finishing touches on the new crown jewel of the Boise State football program the Bleymaier Football Complex a separate crew has quietly worked on a more basic need for the Broncos.
The Broncos opened fall camp Monday on the intramural field in the heart of campus just like last year.
But its a far different field after a $300,000, donor-funded renovation project.
Next year, fall camp will be held on a new football-first field that will be built between University Drive and Bronco Circle. The permanent grass field will be the Broncos first since new buildings in the north end zone of Bronco Stadium wiped out that grass space, beginning in 2005.
We like being on grass, coach Chris Petersen said. We really think its important. Its different than the (artificial) turf. Its easier on (players) bodies. For us to have access to that is a really big thing.
The Broncos have moved around to find grass fields in recent years practicing on the schools soccer fields, the intramural field and at what is now Dona Larsen Park, before the grass was replaced with a track, softball and high school football facility.
The poor condition of the intramural field last summer sparked the projects to replace that surface and build the new practice facility.
Its definitely an important need, said Bob Carney, the associate athletic director for facilities. It was just finding the right space on campus.
A donor contributed the money to refurbish the intramural field. The field was completed in late April and left unused until football practice began.
Athletics will control the field and keep it fenced until Nov. 1, allowing some campus recreation uses. The football team could use it to prepare for the Oct. 25 game at BYU. The Broncos other grass road game is Nov. 23 at San Diego State.
The new field is set up with underground pins that will help line fields and allow for quick transitions between football, soccer and lacrosse.
(Campus recreation) can use it depending on the condition of the field, Carney said.
The university will bear most of the $1.9 million cost of the new practice facility as a trade for athletics work on the intramural field, Carney said. Athletics donations will cover the rest. The State Board of Education has approved the planning and design phase but still must review the final plans.
The cost includes demolition of the Applied Technology Building and Mechanical Technology Building, which were vacated by the College of Western Idaho. Removing those buildings was part of the campus master plan, as was adding green space.
The new field, which will include space on the side for drills, will be surrounded by a wrought-iron fence, wind screens and banners to give it a private feel, but campus recreation will be able to use it.
The football program plans to use the facility mostly for fall camp in August and the summer youth and high school football camps. That will give coaches three practice options Bronco Stadium (FieldTurf), the Caven-Williams indoor facility (FieldTurf) and the grass field.
The turf, we make work and its good and you get awesome traction, Petersen said, but when youre on it for a long period of time, its nice to be on grass.
The Broncos werent able to use the intramural field as much as they wanted last year because of the conditions, Petersen said. A field in questionable shape gets torn up quickly by 105 guys in cleats.
So far, the new field has impressed.
Its beautiful, senior tight end Gabe Linehan said. Look at it its nice and crowned. As long as you dont notice it when youre playing, its a good field. I love playing on grass.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat