Treasure Valley bars scramble to show Boise State football home opener

Boise State's home opener Saturday is only available via online streaming, so some businesses will connect laptops to TVs.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comSeptember 6, 2013 

  • WATCH THE BRONCOS ON ESPN3

    ESPN3 games can be viewed at WatchESPN.com through participating Internet providers (Cable One, for example), college campuses and military bases. They also can be viewed on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. They can be streamed on TVs with software or devices like an Xbox LIVE or Apple TV — but those require a participating provider. Find a list of providers at http://espn.go. com/watchespn/affList.

    OR JUST GO TO THE GAME

    Tickets are available at boisestatetickets.com. They range from $27 to $65. The ticket office (426-4737) is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, and opens at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Nichole Steelman is hoping for a Hail Mary.

Not on Boise State’s blue turf — but in her business’ preparations for the home-opener football game against the University of Tennessee at Martin.

The 1 p.m. Saturday game at Bronco Stadium isn’t being aired on television — for the first time in 10 years. It’s available only through ESPN3, an online streaming service.

That’s left some Treasure Valley bars and restaurants trying to figure out a way to show the game.

Steelman, one of the managers at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in Meridian, said she didn’t realize until Tuesday that it wasn’t airing on TV.

“You see ESPN in the title, and you think, ‘Oh, I have that package. I have it,’ ” she said.

When a customer called to ask if they’d be showing the game, she checked again and realized that it might not be so easy. Steelman said her sports bar hadn’t given up on the possibility, but it isn’t looking good.

“It’s to-be-determined,” she said.

Kevin Martinez, the manager at the Ram’s Boise location, was even less optimistic.

“As of right now, I don’t think we’re going to have it,” he said Thursday afternoon, adding that his chef thinks he may be able to connect a laptop to one of the TVs. “We’ll give it a shot, and we’ll do what we can do.”

ESPN owns the TV rights to all Boise State home games, and under the seven-year contract can put up to two games a year on the Internet-only channel.

The rub is that only certain Internet providers carry ESPN3, including Cable One and AT&T. The carriers do not include Verizon or CenturyLink.

The Broadway Bar let its regulars know on Facebook that it will be screening the game.

Renee Webster, assistant manager at Broadway, said owner George Wade is fairly tech-savvy. She said he did a test run Wednesday night using a laptop to see if it would work.

“We have eight big-screen TVs. We’ll only be showing the game on four, with the use of three laptops,” Webster said. “Normally, we would have the game on every screen.”

Webster said Broadway is a bit concerned about the quality of the streaming video.

“This is a first,” she said. “We’ve never had to do it this way before.”

Boise’s Crescent No Lawyers Bar & Grill started working on the issue a month ago, said owner Jody Morrison.

“We’re going to have the game on multiple screens,” she said. “Everybody in the place will have a good view.”

The Crescent has seating for about 360 people, she said.

Big Al’s in Meridian was working Thursday to determine if it would be able to at show the game at least on its centerpiece 55-foot screen.

“We’ve got a couple of employees who have a Cable One account. We’re trying to log into their account and make sure we’ll be able to get access,” said John O’Donnell, Big Al’s marketing manager.

“We do want to test it first,” he said.

O’Donnell said Big Al’s has been flooded with calls.

“Bronco Nation is desperate to catch this week’s game,” he said. “Unfortunately, everybody can’t make it down to the stadium. We’d love to get it on.”

There is one way for Boise State fans to make sure they see the game: Boise State said Thursday that 7,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s game.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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