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About “The Blue” – The Story Behind Boise’s Famed Football Turf

Ask anyone from out of state what they know about Idaho, and they’ll likely say “potatoes.” But Idaho is known for more than its world-famous spuds.

Since 1932, Boise has raised a notable crop of a different kind: in the form of its students.  In 2010, Boise State’s 20,000 full-timers made it Idaho’s largest university. And the campus boasts a range of facilities such as The Albertsons Library, Taco Bell Arena and the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. But possibly the school’s most unique attractor is its blue football field. Yes, it’s blue.

Bronco Stadium in Boise, ID

What’s with “The Blue”?

For many years, Boise’s Bronco Stadium was the only one in the world to boast all-blue turf. Its first blue AstroTurf was installed in 1986 with the intent to boost the university’s national notoriety; subsequent blue turf was installed in 1995, 2002, 2008 and 2010 (seen in the picture above), with the latest synthetic surface (FieldTurf) known to be a bit more forgiving.

Recognized nationwide, Boise State’s blue turf has spurred other colleges to adopt their own color variations. (Eastern Washington’s first blood red field was unveiled in 2010 and Central Arkansas installed purple and gray striped turf earlier this year.) In 2008, Connecticut’s University of New Haven followed suit and installed its own artificial blue turf.

Blue is the New Black.

For Boiseans, however, their turf is more than just a blue playing field. It says “tradition,” “nostalgia” and, most of all, “pride.”

The Broncos’ blue turf has created its share of controversy. For years, officials have argued about the Broncos’ so-called homefield advantage. Recently, in signing a contract to join the Mountain West Conference, the Broncos’ all-blue uniforms were banned when playing conference opponents on their own blue turf. Competitive advantage or no, there’s no doubt that Boise has set a precedent.

The blue field has been called many things, but is most often referred to as Smurf Turf. (ESPN’s Chris Berman even coined it “The Blue Plastic Tundra,” a reference to Lambeau Field’s “Frozen Tundra.”) For players, it’s simply “The Blue.”

Whatever you choose to call it, Boise’s blue football field is as sacred to area locals as the potatoes that grow in their fields.

Amber Daley

Amber Daley is a fifth-generation Idahoan infatuated with skiing, mountain bike riding and photography. When not exploring the outdoors, she writes for local and national publications, peruses local antique shops and creates art in her studio. Find her online.

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