Words & Deeds

Michael Deeds: A stadium concert at Boise State? It’s about time — sort of

Update 04/10: It’s 9 a.m. Friday, and I’ve already received seven emails and a voice mail from knowledgeable “Boise old-timers” who saw the Charlie Daniels Band, Carole King, Poco and more at the stadium back in the day. I’d like to thank them for the history lesson. I’ve posted some of their comments after the video at the end of this column. Oh, and here’s a photo of King in what appears to be a sound check at the stadium in 1976.

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It’s fantastic to see Boise State University finally doing a stadium concert. Now that the dam has burst, I can’t wait for Bruce Springsteen. And Madonna.

This isn’t quite how I imagined Albertsons Stadium getting into the concert business. Yes, former “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, who will perform April 11 after the Broncos spring football game, has sold lots of records.

But I’d always envisioned something so earthshaking that a massive fracture would split the field. AC/DC making us “Thunderstruck.” Or Paul McCartney going all “Helter Skelter.” Not a free, tacked-on show included with a $10 scrimmage ticket. (And is this really the first stadium show in the entire history of BSU? No idea. My effort to talk to someone there wasn’t fruitful.)

Whatever. I’m genuinely glad that Sparks will perform. Now that concertgoers actually get to tread on the untouchable blue turf, it makes a stadium-show dream seem less like a fantasy. The idea of a McCartney concert isn’t some nut-job hallucination I cooked up listening to “Day Tripper” too many times, either. There’s at least one promoter who has attempted to make that show happen.

He refers to it as “The Beatle on the Blue.”

“I would say it’s fair to say that we’ve tried now for three straight years to get the Paul McCartney stadium tour,” says Creston Thornton, owner of Eagle-based CTTouring. It’s not the first time that Thornton has set his sights on the Smurf Turf, either. “We actually had — 10 or 12 years ago — the Rolling Stones ready to go, and the date got moved back to October, and we couldn’t take that risk with the weather.”

That wouldn’t have been the only hurdle. Putting on a major concert at Albertsons Stadium would come with all sorts of inherent barriers, the biggest being the athletic department. Games and practices eat up lots of potential dates.

Then there’s the stadium no-alcohol policy. A huge potential income stream would be beer and wine sales. There would have to be special approval in order to get any promoter to bite.

Which raises the question: Would Boise State even be interested? Come on, Bronco Nation. Let’s do this. In the scholarly lexicon of the new single from your weekend headliner Miss Sparks, “Double tap that ho!”

At least aim for the Beatle on the Blue. Thornton’s grand plan even includes inviting HBO to film the concert.

“I sent Paul McCartney’s manager pictures of the jets flying over the blue turf and a packed stadium, and the history of how big BSU football is to the town,” Thornton says. “Have the mayor give McCartney the key to the city. It would be a huge deal. You could sell seats on the field. That’s about 42,000 tickets.”

Of course, even if BSU got on board, there’s always the Beatle to convince.

“We made a first step with getting Ringo to town again,” Thornton says, referring to the Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band show coming to CenturyLink Arena on Oct. 6.

“Maybe he can call Paul,” Thornton adds, only half joking.

Reader emails

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Just reading the scene this AM. The question: ever been a concert in the stadium? Answer YES, I went to a Canned Heat concert around 1973. It was great don't remember any others there, most others like Uriah Heap and Neil Sedaka were in the old gym.

• Charlie Daniels played the stadium about 25-30 years ago. And I think there was someone else, too, about that time, but I can't remember who it was.

• I have a clear memory of two "concerts" at BSU Stadium, and I'm sure both were in the new concrete stadium, though at least one was likely before the blue turf was installed. Some sort of city event, perhaps Fourth of July, featured The Poynter Sisters. I know because one of my kids won some sort of door prize and had to walk out to get it. Also, I'm sure Carole King did a concert once, likely as a benefit for some cause. I remember her new man came riding out in bucksins on a white horse.

•  Carole King did an outdoor affair there around 1980. Let a bunch of balloons fly to start - on a perfect evening.

• This is not the first concert at the stadium, but is first on "the blue". I was a freshman in 1971 and I saw Poco, Canned Heat, and Cold Blood. The stadium was 1 year old. I recently retired after 42+ years at BSU, the last 15 at Taco Bell Arena. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to exact years, but it must have been between 1970 and about 1983.

• On the question in your Scene column this morning on whether there have ever been any stadium shows in Bronco Stadium, I remember a few in the late 70’s. They would set up the stage on the turf facing the West side of the stadium. I remember a Charlie Daniels Band show there around the time that “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was a big hit. There was an Allman Brothers Band show in there too. They also had a local “Battle of the Bands” in there around that time. A local band that emphasized Foghat covers won…ha ha.

So there you have it. How about it, Boise State? Can we get this party started again in 2015?

NEW BOISE SPECTRUM?

In 2011, I wrote about the challenges facing the Boise Spectrum, home to Edwards 21 Cinemas and Imax. After making a huge splash in the late 1990s, the Spectrum was dotted with empty retail spaces.

Today, much is the same. Seven suites are available for lease. Seven weeks of Thursday Thunder, the annual live-music series, are slated to kick off July 16 to try to make the Spectrum feel like a relevant entertainment destination.

But this time, the bands will perform in a newly improved courtyard. It’s part of a Spectrum remodel happening over the next couple of months.

For businesses, the sound of jackhammers will be welcome noise.

“We think it’s awesome,” says Bob Steele, owner of Legends Sports Pub & Grill. “From our perspective, it’s time for an update. I was born and raised here, and it was the go-to place when it opened. It was state of the art and new and shiny and flashy. And now the neon just dates it.”

The Spectrum will host a construction groundbreaking party from 4 to 7 p.m. April 10. You’ll find samples from the restaurants, a bounce house and giveaways.

Freshening up the Spectrum could lure new businesses. A local coffee operator just signed a lease. My advice? Go for the craft beer market, too. Be 2015, Boise Spectrum.

“I think the most encouraging thing is just getting people reacquainted with it,” Steele says. “It was the place to be.”

Michael Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears on the 6 p.m. Thursday airing of Channel 6 News.

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