What most people thought was a gimmick when it was first installed, Boise State’s Football field, The Blue, has turned into a popular tourist attraction as well as a trend setter for college football and beyond, but how did it come to be?
The Boise State Broncos haven’t always been the football powerhouse they are today. They had success at the junior college level, winning a national championship back in 1958, then they moved up to division 1-AA (now FCS) as a 4-year program. Gene Bleymair, the athletic director at the time, was still looking for something to set Boise State apart.
“I was on an airplane and just thinking about the fact that we were going to spend $750,000 and pull up an old green carpet and put down a new green carpet, and nobody was going to notice or care that we had upgraded and spent the money to put in a new field,” Bleymaier said. “So that kind of bothered me. I was just thinking everybody knows that it’s artificial turf; there’s nobody that thinks it’s grass. They know it’s not grass, so there’s really no reason it needs to be green. Why not do it in our school colors?”
Thus, The Blue was born in the summer of 1986. At the time there was no one else doing this sort of thing, Boise State’s blue field was the first non-green field in the United States, and it was over 20 years before another university followed in their footsteps.
There was a bit of skepticism about the blue field at first. Some jokingly called it the “Smurf Turf” after the cartoon characters sharing the same color. There were some locals who were concerned that Geese or other wildlife might mistake it as a body of water and injure themselves while trying to dive into it.
Ever since then, however, it seems that “The Blue” has had an incredibly positive impact. From 1986 to 2018 Boise State’s home record is 182-39 with 14 conference championships and a 1-AA championship in 1980. The program reached new heights in the early 2000’s with coach Chris Peterson. Since 2006 they have had 2 undefeated seasons, 8 conference championships, 14 bowl game appearances, and 10 Top 25 finishes.
Boise State was truly ahead of their time, as mentioned earlier, it was over 20 years before any other university tried a different color other than green for their field. Now there’s 8 other universities with non-green fields. The trend might have crossed over into the NFL, but in 2011 the NFL enacted the “Boise State Rule” stating that fields must be a shade of green. The college basketball world, however, seems to have taken some inspiration from Boise State, with more and more universities opting to treat their court as a piece of art, as well as a playing surface.
If you think “The Blue” field is interesting, see what else Boise has to offer here!
Rickmouser45, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons