Boise State Football

With approval from Boise State, Luther College announces plans for blue football field

Luther College will install a blue football field this year.
Luther College will install a blue football field this year. Courtesy of Luther College

The iconic blue field at Albertsons Stadium always will be Boise State’s. There is, however, some room for other blue football fields.

After asking for Boise State’s permission, Luther College will become just the second college in the United States to have a blue football field approved by the Broncos from start to finish.

The Division III school in Decorah, Iowa, announced Wednesday that it will install blue AstroTurf at Carlson Stadium, the home of the school’s football team. Luther’s will become the third college football field in the United States with blue turf other than Boise State’s. Coastal Carolina had a teal turf installed for the 2015 season.

The other school with a blue turf, the University of New Haven, had its blue turf retroactively approved, as it was built prior to Boise State’s federal trademark. The New York Times detailed the process of receiving approval in a September 2016 piece.

A blue field was also built at Hosei University in Japan in 2012. Boise State and Hosei have had a relationship since 2004.

Boise State holds a well-known trademark on all non-green fields, regardless of level of play or sport. Schools or turf manufacturers must approach Boise State for a free license prior to going through with the creation of the field.

In 2014, Boise State denied Brevard High in North Carolina a blue field; Brevard High shares a field with Brevard College, which reportedly led to the rejection.

Since that point, Coastal Carolina and Luther have received approvals.

“Every turf request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We look at a number of factors including the type of school, geography, division, sports being played on the turf, school colors, academics, recruitment outreach and such,” said Rachael Bickerton, who serves as the director of trademark licensing and enforcement at Boise State. “I wouldn't say there will always be hard and fast rules about what divisions schools play in or even what sports they play — while those may always be a factor.”

Overall, there are 23 licensed blue football fields from elementary through high school, Bickerton said.

Bickerton said Luther approached Boise State about the field in November and, after conversations with Athletic Director Curt Apsey and other administrators, a blue field at Carlson Stadium was approved. Why? Because Luther College, with its enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students and Division III status, will not be confused with Boise State and does not impede upon its “uniqueness.” No one watching a game on ESPN is going to think they’re watching the Norse rather than the Broncos.

“We have to look at how the request could impact perceptions of a connection to or similarity with Boise State,” Bickerton said. “We approve those requests that we do not believe are going to impact our ability to market our university across the country and recruit students and student-athletes based on the attributes that define Boise State.”

Boise State remains the only FBS school with a blue turf. Coastal Carolina plays in the FCS while New Haven is Division II.

“That’s a significant factor,” Bickerton said. “Their games aren’t going to be televised (and), presumably from a recruitment standpoint, there’s less likelihood our coaches are going to try and recruit (the same players).”

Luther is not allowed to market its blue field in the same way that Boise State markets its blue field. Carlson Stadium can have a blue field, but it can’t be The Blue.

“There’s restrictions on how they can describe it. It’s not called The Blue Turf,” Bickerton said. “Just to keep it as, that’s the blue turf at Luther College.”