Bronco Beat

Too many empty seats? One ex-Bronco is raising money to fill them with fans in need

Boise State defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte (96) celebrates a tackle during the game against BYU at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Oct. 20, 2016.
Boise State defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte (96) celebrates a tackle during the game against BYU at Albertsons Stadium in Boise on Oct. 20, 2016. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Elliot Hoyte recalls a game during his redshirt year at Boise State when the Broncos faced BYU in 2012 that showed him the power of a full Albertsons Stadium.

“It was like a sonic boom,” Hoyte said. “... And once I played, I saw that it makes a difference, that it can make an impact on the game.”

So when Hoyte, whose football career ended after last season, saw sagging attendance in Boise State’s first two home games, he wanted to do something about it. The Broncos drew 31,581 fans for the opener against Troy and 28,385 on Thursday against New Mexico.

On Friday, Hoyte tweeted: “Attendance last night was appalling. There is a core group that is there no matter what, and thank you. Rest of the fan base are a joke.” Then he realized it was better to take action than just type.

“I saw a few of the excuses, but some just said they couldn’t afford to go,” Hoyte said. “They’d come rain or shine, but may not have the means. I figured there must be an opportunity to get them to the game.”

Hoyte started a GoFundMe page simply titled “Fill The Stands!” that day and posted a $2,500 goal. Within 24 hours, he met the goal and upped it to $10,000 for the Oct. 21 game against Wyoming. The fund had more than $4,000 as of Monday evening.

“It’s been awesome. When you’re done with football, it’s tough to not be involved, so it’s cool to think you can still have an influence,” Hoyte said.

Once the project got going, Hoyte still wasn’t certain how to distribute the tickets he’ll purchase with the money. CATCH (Charitable Assistance To Community’s Homeless) and a Meridian police officer reached out to help.

“They see kids in blue and orange all the time who maybe have never been to a game, so they’ll be able to help get them in the right hands,” Hoyte said. “And if anyone else wants to help, I think that would be great.”

Hoyte, a native of England, has a final interview next month to become an American citizen. He’s a sales consultant for Lyle Pearson for Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

“Elliot’s one of our favorite guys,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... I think that’s just part of ‘once a Bronco, always a Bronco.’

“We talk to our guys, if you feel strongly about something, do something about it.”

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