On Saturday night, Luke Combs took a break from singing to proudly announce that Albertsons Stadium was the first and only college football stadium he’s ever played. The moment was just as big for the community as it was for him. 

That’s because the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year is only the second major artist from any genre that’s performed on The Blue. Garth Brooks was the first to do it over two nights in July 2019. It’s estimated that a total of 86,000 country music fans attended those concerts, which means. That means the Brooks performance added approximately 7,000 more seats to Albertsons Stadium by covering up Boise State’s famous blue turf.

2022 Stagecoach Festival - Day 3
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We’re still waiting for an official attendance number from Saturday night’s concert. It will likely be somewhere between the 36,000 seats Albertsons Stadium normally holds and the 43,000 that came to see Brooks four years ago. (The stage for the Brooks show was in the round, allowing the university to sell tickets in the North End Zone. Combs performed on a more traditional stage and the North End Zone was empty because the view was totally obstructed.) 

Whatever that final number is, that many fans experienced an evening that they won’t soon forget...once they got into the stadium. Combs was absolutely phenomenal and showed Boise EXACTLY how he earned that Entertainer of the Year title. It’s amazing how much the energy of his performance has changed since he performed at the Revolution Concert House in 2018. And his supporting acts? Well, we’ve got a feeling that Lainey Wilson and Riley Green probably have some new fans after the killer performances they put on. 

The One Issue that MUST Be Fixed Before Albertsons Stadium’s Next Big Concert

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

We’d love to say the same about the other two opening acts, Brent Cobb and Flatland Cavalry, but we can’t simply because we were caught in the hellscape that was the line outside the stadium. When we asked others how Boise State could improve the concert-going experience before they host another show of this size, getting control of the lines was the number one answer and we agree. 

Some of the things we observed while trying to enter through Gate E on the ExtraMile Arena side of the stadium:

  • Doors opened just 40 minutes before the first opening act was scheduled to hit the stage
  • No guidance from security, stadium staff or volunteers as to which line was for which gate
  • People being turned away by the ticket takers after getting through security because they’d entered through the wrong gate

That last one was a point of contention for fans that had been boiling in the 92º sun for 45 minutes or longer, only to be told they had to get out of line they’d just been in and go to the very back of the line they were supposed to be in. The entry process is something that must be improved before Albertsons Stadium hosts another large concert. 

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We know that many of the folks in the orange shirts who found themselves in the position where they had to turn people who entered through the wrong gates away were volunteers who stepped up for the job as a way to raise money for a non-profit. Having to turn away someone who’s been in the sun too long and may or may not have had too much to drink is a cruddy position to find yourself in as a volunteer.

However, the number of times that happened could’ve been greatly reduced by simply placing a volunteer holding a sign that said something like “End of the Line. Gate E” at the end of each line. That way people could navigate their way to the proper gate. 

Other Nit-Picky Things That Could Be Improved in the Future

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

There were a number of complaints about the concession and bathroom lines inside the stadium, as well. We observed it ourselves while trying to get a pizza cone. Some women who really needed to use the restroom were incredibly frustrated when they realized they’d jumped in the Coned line. The two lines kind of just blended together. This problem isn’t new. In a 2022 interview with BoiseDev, Boise State Director of Athletics, Jeramiah Dickey already acknowledged the stadium concourse is too small for the number of people wanting concessions during a football game. The crazy lines he mentions were just exacerbated by the additional number of concert-goers inside the stadium. It’s something the university is aware of and considering as they work on stadium improvement plans. 

Finally, when you go to a concert you expect to pay a premium for concessions. What fans didn’t expect was for the beer and seltzers they were used to paying $8 for during a Boise State game being marked up to $14 during the concert. You don’t need alcohol to enjoy a concert, but fans who like to have a drink told us they were a little annoyed with the big markup. Alcohol’s a luxury item, so adjusting those prices isn’t mission-critical or even necessary.

However, we do sympathize with fans that told us they paid $5 for a cup of water. On a day when we watched the medical staff tend to those dealing with heat-related illnesses, $5 for water in a paper cup does seem outrageous. 

The Bottom Line

Overall, these were minor issues that won’t take anything away from how people will remember Luke Combs’s epic performance on The Blue. They’re easily solvable, too! Boise State’s been so committed to improving the fan experience no matter what they’re hosting, that we’re confident that if/when they host their next big concert at Albertsons Stadium it will be even better!

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