History Lesson: How Did Boise State University Get it’s Blue Turf?
The official name of BSU's famous blue football field is the Lyle Smith field, but most locals know it as The Blue. According to Boise State's website, "Successful football has been played on that field since 1958 when the Junior College won the National Championship. The team was coached by the father of Bronco Football, Lyle Smith." Back then the turf was just your average green.
Green became blue in the summer of 1986. The idea came from Athletic Director Gene Bleymaeir. In an interview according to coloradoan, he said, “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. 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?" -At the time he had no idea how iconic it would become.
Bleymaier said he checked with the manufacturer, AstroTurf, to make sure it was possible to get a blue field. They were reluctant at first, he said, until he threatened to take the school’s business elsewhere. - colorodoan
This marked the first non-green, artificial football field in the country. At first outsiders teased the turf and considered a gimmick, calling it “Smurf Turf.’ People were even convinced ducks and geese would mistake the field for a lake and be injured or killed trying to dive in (seriously how dumb do you think birds are?). Soon though, THE BLUE became nationally associated with Boise State as a symbol for the football program’s blue-collar work ethic.
According to clever neighbor, Boise was a tread setter ahead of their time. It took 20 years before any other university tried a different color other than green. Currently there are 8 other universities with non-green fields. Even though we have “Boise State Rule” stating that fields must be a shade of green.
The Blue is one of Idaho's most visited sites. Want to check it out for yourself? To see the blue you have to enter The Allen Noble Hall of Fame which is home to the history of Boise State’s successful athletes and teams. Take a selfie or photo of the blue from the Hall of Fame patio, one of the most popular selfie spots in the state. More than 12,000 visitors have signed the book in the hall of fame. Visitors range from all 50 states and at least 37 countries. It is often referred to as one of the most visited places in the state. Monday through Friday from 10 am – 4 pm. Unless there is a special event, practice or it is closed to the public for other reasons.