The landmark that made Boise State a household name nationwide will get a refresher this spring.
Boise State has received permission to spend up to $600,000 to start replacing the iconic blue turf at Albertsons Stadium from Idaho’s Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council, a board charged with approving state public works projects.
Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey confirmed to the Idaho Statesman on Friday that the school will replace the blue turf after spring practice and in time for the start of fall practices before the 2019 season.
“It’s needed,” Apsey said. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”
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Artificial turf fields typically last eight to 10 years. Boise State last replaced its field in 2010.
If replacement costs exceed $600,000, Boise State could go back to the council and request more funds. Apsey estimated the final cost at between $600,000 and $1 million, but expects it to be on the lower end.
The turf will remain its trademark Bronco Blue, but Boise State will expand it to cover the areas where the track used to sit with a shorter turf to “complement the turf in appearance and provide slip resistance to the players,” according to the project proposal.
“I’ve seen a lot of people (slip) since I’ve been here, myself included,” Boise State cornerback Avery Williams told the Statesman last summer. “I’ve probably slipped once or twice just running off the field.”
Aspey said the turf will extend all the way to the stands on the west side of the stadium, while the east side will extend an extra 8 to 12 feet. Extending it all the way to the east stands would limit planned future renovations to that side of the stadium.
Apsey said to expect slight changes to the numbers on the field, sponsorship logos and the end-zone font.
Apsey and Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin both called for a replacement field last summer as it showed noticeable wear and tear. Harsin said the sidelines were no longer straight, pointing out that BYU returned an interception for a touchdown in 2016 thanks to a curved sideline.
“The field is shredding,” Harsin told the Statesman last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”
Boise State turned its playing surface blue in 1986 under former athletic director Gene Bleymaier as the first non-green artificial football field in the country. It replaced that original field in 1995, 2002, 2008 and 2010, meaning this will be the sixth blue turf to sit inside what is now Albertsons Stadium.
FieldTurf and Boise-based McAlvain Construction won a public bidding process to install the field based on their qualifications and history with similar projects. A committee that included two representatives from Boise State, two from the Department of Public Works and one independent consultant graded their joint bid. It also graded bids from Coast-to-Coast/AstroTurf, Sprinturf and Hellas Construction.
Crews can begin replacing Boise State’s field as soon as April 15, with May 31 listed as the project deadline, according to state documents.
Boise State has turned to FieldTurf for its athletic projects repeatedly over the years. The Broncos have used FieldTurf for blue fields at Albertsons Stadium in 2008 and ‘10, its indoor practice facility in 2005, and at Dona Larsen Park in 2012.
UPDATE (Jan. 24): Boise State says it will recycle the turf being removed from the stadium. “Once the rubber has been removed and the turf has been uninstalled, its condition would not warrant distribution in any capacity,” the school said in a statement.