BOISE — New Boise State University athletic director Jeramiah Dickey has been pushing “six games, six sellouts” since he took over in January. Tuesday that became possible.
Dickey and football coach Andy Avalos announced at a press conference at Boise State that tickets to Albertsons Stadium and the other athletic venues on campus will be sold to full capacity starting this fall.
That means six chances for six sellouts at the six Boise State football home games on The Blue, starting with the Sept. 11 home opener against the University of Texas at El Paso.
“This is the launching pad to do that,” Dickey said Tuesday.
A year ago the COVID-19 pandemic forced Boise State to play in front of an empty stadium for the home opener against Utah State and just 1,100 fans for the other two home games against Brigham Young University and Colorado State.
But selling out the season won’t be easy. Boise State has only surpassed the listed capacity of 36,387 seven times in the past nine years since the stadium expanded to the current size in 2012.
“Why not? We have one of the greatest brands in college football. Why can’t we sell out every game?” Dickey said. “We’ve done it before. Why can’t we do it now?
“We will not live with excuses. We will find a way. That’s probably why I’ve promised six sellouts and I’ll still promise that today. And the next step is to see how many we can get in basketball. We’re not going to stop.”
Recent announcements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention easing mask and distancing protocols made Tuesday’s announcement possible. Dickey said they are still working through any game day protocols such as whether fans will be required to wear masks and will announce details at a later date.
And while the news is a big one on the field for the football team, it’s a big one for the bottom line. Boise State generates a large amount of revenue for the athletic department from football ticket sales.
“I wasn’t looking forward to what plan B would be,” Dickey said of another season with no football fans.
Dickey said season ticket renewals are at about 75 percent but have recently plateaued. He’s hoping Tuesday’s announcement — eliminating any uncertainty about whether fans would be allowed back in the fall — will help ticket sales pick up.
Boise State also announced anybody who purchases season tickets prior to 2 p.m. Wednesday will be invited to a special ticket distribution event prior to the season.
“Football is such an economic driver for us so it’s important and it very much impacts the bottom line,” Dickey said. “But so is men’s basketball and women’s basketball. My job is to emphasize revenue generation in all of our programs. And not just from ticket renewals, but sponsors — everybody was waiting to hear what would happen.”
Boise State plans to make significant upgrades to the fan experience before, during and after games inside Albertsons Stadium. The biggest is the sale of alcohol inside the general seating areas. Dickey recently replied “yes” on Twitter to someone asking about alcohol sales, but refrained from providing details Tuesday.
“I believe someone in our department is pretty active on social media and tweeted something about alcohol,” Dickey said with a laugh. “That’s something we’re still navigating and working through. I would expect announcements over the next 4-to-6 weeks.”
Boise State also plans to pursue additional premium seating options this fall in previously unused spaces such as the balcony outside the Bleymaier Football Complex behind the north end zone.
Other enhancements to pregame tailgating and the experience inside Albertsons Stadium will also be announced later this summer.
“There will be other announcements over the next month to six weeks that will very much impact what people see this coming year,” Dickey said.
Ticket sales should get a boost from the excitement of Avalos returning as head coach. The former Boise State player and assistant coach was hired to replace Bryan Harsin a week after Dickey was hired in January.
The Broncos are slated to open the season in Orlando in a nationally televised game at the University of Central Florida the weekend of Sept. 4 before returning home to play UTEP and Oklahoma State (Sept. 18). Avalos said knowing both home games could be played in front of packed crowds will fuel the team during summer workouts.
“Being able to get to play in front of their family and friends and Bronco Nation is a big deal,” Avalos said. “Now we have some motivation … to lead ourselves out of this pandemic.”
Dickey and Avalos were asked why the announcement was made now given the possibility things could still turn back in a negative direction at some point in the summer. Both said they would monitor and make adjustments as needed if that were to occur.
“Why today?” Avalos said. “Because this is a big deal. We’re excited about it.”
Both mentioned the economic impact a full stadium has on the surrounding community. Avalos joked about needing to help fill up all the new hotels downtown.
But there’s no denying the biggest advantage may come on the field. Boise State has the best home winning percentage in the nation since 2000 for a big reason — the atmosphere.
“This is a special place and when it’s full it’s a huge advantage for Bronco Nation to help us out,” Avalos said.
Boise State is currently selling season tickets but individual tickets will go on sale later this summer. The Mountain West and its television partners are expected to announce date changes to some games as early as Thursday, including the opener at UCF — which could move to Thursday, Sept. 2, to kick off the college football season in prime time.
There’s still a long ways to go to get back to normal but Tuesday’s news was certainly a step in the right direction.
“The timing is right,” Dickey said.
After a rough 14 months for everyone, it sure feels good to hear that.