BOISE — The line started at the door and went halfway down the Albertsons Stadium sidewalk.
All to see the new blue turf, and to grab a piece of the old one.
Hundreds of fans flocked to Boise State’s campus Wednesday evening for an open house to unveil the sixth edition of the famed blue turf. Coach Bryan Harsin, members of his coaching staff and players were on hand to greet fans along with the Boise State cheerleaders and mascot Buster.
Fans were allowed to walk on the new surface — and even throw around a football if they brought one — during the three-hour open house that also included photo opportunities with the Bronco Girl and her horse, Blue.
“I love the new turf,” said BAA member and longtime Bronco fan Dustin Sims, who visited with his wife, Rabecca. “Watching some of these guys tear up their knees and stuff wasn’t any good. They really needed the new stuff. It’s really nice how they put on events like this to meet the players and get autographs and photos. It’s the first time for my wife ever being on the blue so she’s having a blast and it’s fun tun to interact with the coaches and cheerleaders and everyone.”
Installation finished last week on the new turf, which cost roughly $750,000. The color is a brighter blue, the surface feels bouncier and the fonts and yard numbers were changed to mirror those on Boise State’s jerseys.
Also noticeable is the new turf’s extension all the way to the stands on the west side and to within a few feet on the east size, covering an ugly cement surface where the old track used to be.
“It’s way brighter, looks way cleaner and it’s beautiful,” Harsin said. “It looks much better now, and we’ve been running and working out on it already and the players love it. It’s got good grip, it has more bounce and it’s not as hard as the other turf. You can really tell a difference.
“I think they did a great job. I really like the look but the surface itself is night and day from what we had out there before. It gives you a little bit more of that natural feel than what it was before. In the last nine years the technology has gotten better and you can tell with this new field.”
Fans waited in line, some for more than an hour, to purchase a piece of the old turf. Boise State originally didn’t plan to sell any of the old turf but were able to salvage enough to make 500 pieces available to the public at $39.99 each.
Boise State originally installed blue AstroTurf prior to the 1986 season. It was replaced again in 1995 and 2002 before the switch to FieldTurf was made in 2008. It was last replaced in 2010, and last year was the ninth played on the old surface.
Players on both teams routinely complained about the old blue turf. In addition to many of the yard lines and sideline not being straight anymore, the surface had lost much of its spongy-feel due to wear and tear.
“It’s a lot different than the other turf,” corner Avery Williams said. “On cold days it would really feel like concrete and feel frozen but now you can make cuts out there and you really sink into it when you have cleats on. We don’t have to worry about slipping anymore either now that it’s extended out to the wall.
“It feels like there’s more cushion. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but you just sink into it and from a defensive back perspective, back peddling and cutting, I can do it quickly now and on the old turf a lot of us were out here slipping but I haven’t seen a guy slip yet. It’s really nice.”
The new turf will officially debut on Sept. 6 when the Broncos host Marshall in the home opener at 7 p.m.