I've heard many people complain about Bronco Stadium. Either Boise State is behind in capacity or facilities or the fans don't sell it out enough. Pick one, either way this is the usual detractor from an opposing team's fan, and sometimes, a cynical Bronco fan. It's often the excuse of why major teams don't come to Boise. I personally think the Broncos home record of 71-2 since 1999 (that's 11 seasons) might have something to do with it, but what do I know.
Bronco Stadium's official capacity in 2009 was 33,500 seats. The all-time record came Sept. 3rd last year when Oregon came to town, 34,137. By my knowledge, it's the only time the Broncos tip-toed above 34,000, outside of a BCS Bowl. Maybe they should just play in Glendale all the time.
Bronco Stadium was built in 1970. Originally capacity at that time was 14,500 seats. Modest, sure, but what I wish to do with this post is take a closer look at the facts. And ask, does Haiti have an FBS team in the BIG10, because they are getting their butts handed to them down there.
Anyway, Here we go.
Built in 1970, capacity, 14,500. There it remained until the 1975 season, an upper deck was added, bringing capacity to 20,000. In 1997, after joining the D-IA ranks, they added the "curves" bringing it up to 30,000 seats. In 2008 the Stueckle Sky Club was completed, and in 2009 extra South Endzone bleachers were added bringing official capacity to 33,610 screaming, crazy, enthusiatic, emphatic Bronco fans. In 2010 Bronco Stadium will be in its 40th year of use. Using that barometer, let's look across the country and some of the more prominent houses for college football's elite. Let's compare apples to apples, as it were, and see where Bronco Stadium measures up.
So to recap,
Bryant-Denny Stadium, University of Alabama.
Current capacity: 92,012 (plans approved to add seats in 2009 pushing capacity to 101,000)
Opened in 1929, capacity: 12,000
Neyland Stadium, Univeristy of Tennessee.
Current capacity: 100,011 ( capacity used to be 104,079, renovations have reduced it.)
I personally attended a game there against Florida in 2008, attendance was announced at 109,000.
Opened in 1921. Capacity: 3,200
1926 - 6,800
1929 - 17,860
Beaver Stadium, Pennsylvania State University.
Current capacity: 107,282 (routinely above 110,000 on gameday)
Disclaimer: this version of Beaver Stadium is its second incarnation, opening in 1960 with a capacity of 46,284. New Beaver Stadium originally opened in 1909, before that games were held on the lawn in front of the school, just like at your house.
Opened in 1909. Capacity: 30,000
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Current capacity: 81,067 (holds the ongoing consecutive sell-out streak, currently at 304 games.)
Get this, the record crowd at Memorial Stadium was this past season with a crowd of 86,304.
The opponent, Louisana-Lafayette. No joke. That's fan commitment my friends.
Opened in 1923. Capacity: 31,000
The very first expansion took place 41 years later in 1964. Between 1964 and 1972 several expansions brought the capacity to 74,000. The original East side of the stadium (on the left above) has never been expanded.
What I'm trying to convey here is that Bronco Stadium itself is directly on track with several of the top venues in college sports. Only fifty years after its predecessors. Probably most congruous with Boise State would ironically be Lincoln, Nebraska and Memorial Stadium. Population, stadium size, and the relative growth pattern are all the most similar in my opinion. Now if Bronco fans can emulate Husker Nation and sell it out for the next 30 years will be right on track.
My message is this, don't sleep on Boise State. Especially you Bronco fans out there who might second guess yourselves. The stadium might be on the small side now. But the hearts of those who sit in the seats are not.