BOISE — Not a day goes by that Curt Apsey doesn’t venture out to behind the north end zone of Bronco Stadium to check on the progress of the new football facility.
Apsey, the senior associate athletics director at Boise State, is largely responsible for the planning and construction of the new 70,000-square-foot facility scheduled to be completed and fully operational by the start of fall camp in August.
“Every day,” Apsey said. “I built a house last summer and you put up the walls and then the roof is on and you go, ‘Oh man, it’s almost done,’ and then you go over and you realize it’s not. I think when you see it every day you wish it would go quicker, but those guys are working their butts off to get that thing done on time — and so far so good.”
The $22 million building will include a new locker room that more than doubles the size of the current one, a new athletic training facility, a football-only weight room, a players lounge, new coaches offices, position meeting rooms and a second-floor recruiting lounge that overlooks the blue turf.
It was pushed for by Boise State football coach Chris Petersen and made possible by the work of Apsey, previous athletic director Gene Bleymaier, current AD Mark Coyle and Boise State president Bob Kustra. All agreed that the facility was a must-have if the Broncos wanted to remain a national power.
“Without question this is a tool for recruiting,” Apsey said. “We want to make sure when a kid comes on our campus, and they are looking at our facilities and they walk into this place, it makes it an easy decision to choose Boise State. We want to have the ‘wow’ factor and, to be quite honest, that’s kind of how we built it.
“Most importantly it needed to be efficient for our staff and our players. It needs to be a place where our players and coaches can go to get better. From the weight room, the training room, locker room — they all allow them to use this facility and improve.”
The new facility is just the first of what Apsey hopes will be several improvements for the football program and Bronco Stadium in the coming years. Next on the agenda is a new scoreboard for the north end zone, which could be in place as early as this fall.
Apsey has been working with Boise State’s marketing rights holder, Learfield Sports, to get advertising and sponsorship proposals out to potential clients. If the response is favorable, the school hopes to be able to pull the trigger on a much bigger scoreboard that will include a high-definition screen.
But a decision needs to be made soon with the first home game less than five months away.
“It needs to be done pretty quick, because you still have to do the process of who’s going to supply it ,and then you have to install it, and with building the new building in the same area, you have to work around that,” Apsey said.
“It’s a priority. We’re going to do our best to try and get it, but we’re not going to hurry it to where we get something we don’t like. I don’t think we’re going to go about this in such a way where we just have to have it and we just put anything in there. If we can’t get what we want, we’ll wait.”
The scoreboard would be built in a way that it could be removed and installed in a different location should another one of Apsey’s future goals comes to fruition: expanded seating. The new football complex, which will be named after Bleymaier, was designed and built so it could have a seating structure built on top of it.
The athletics department is currently reviewing several different options to expand the seating capacity of Bronco Stadium. They added new bleachers in both end zones prior to last season which added 3,400 seats and brought the capacity to just under 37,000.
The easiest option includes expanding the current bleachers in the north end zone to go on top of the football complex and resemble the taller structure in place in the south end zone. Other options include rounding off the upper deck in the north end similar to the current look in the south end and lowering the field to add additional seats where the track once sat.
“At some point, obviously, we’ve got to find a way to put more seating in here,” Apsey said. “But the one thing we always try to be careful of is, you’ve seen a lot of these people around the country add 15,000 or 20,000 seats and they can’t fill them. We don’t want to add a bunch of seats we’re not confident in filling.
“It depends on how many people are coming to your games in the future. If you have 37,000 every single game and people can’t get a ticket here, that’s one thing. That probably makes that a higher priority. If you have 34,800 every single game, then why are you going to adds seats?”
The Broncos had the largest crowd in stadium history last season, when 36,864 watched a 7-6 win over BYU. But they had crowds of at least 35,700 in four of their six home games and finished with an average attendance of 35,404.
Lowering the field and adding seats closer to the blue turf would be the most appealing option, but also is the most challenging. The close proximity to the Boise River and the water table under the field only allows for them to dig 7-to-10 feet deep. Any deeper would come with a much higher price tag.
“We’ve talked about lowering the field and almost creating this bath tub, which a lot of people have done, but we found out pretty quickly that even though that is an option and we haven’t gone away from that option yet, we run into some water issues which obviously makes it a lot more expensive,” Apsey said.
“We don’t have an unlimited amount of money, so I think ideally if you could do it you probably want to lower it, but again, the water level gives us some challenges there.”
The athletics department is also considering a re-grade of the seats in the lower level, which would decrease the steepness of the seats and allow them to place more rows closer to the field. This option could work whether they lower the field or not.
“We had some architects do some renderings and I think you could probably add about 4,000 more seats around the bottom, I think it’s six to nine extra rows,” Apsey said. “You can either lower the field and do it or restructure the bottom and make the slope a little more parallel to the ground, which allows you to have seats closer to the field.
“I don’t know if there’s an option that we prefer, but for us it’s probably going to be the one that gives us the most seats with the best viewing angles for the lowest price.”
But first things first. The construction on the new football facility is expected to be completed by the end of June and the month of July will be used for interior decorating and moving the coaches offices. It should be completely up-and-running by the start of fall camp on August 5.
“I’m excited,” Apsey said. “It’s getting close.”