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Inside Boise State’s smurf turf: The first non-green field in the world


Boise is known for many things – from being the “City of Trees,” to outdoor attractions, arts, and cultural events, to name a few. But there is one thing Boise has that makes people say, “oh, you’re from the city with the…”

You guessed it: “…blue football field!

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The blue is unique in that Boise State was the first school to have a non-green football field. In fact, it took another twenty years for another university to install another non-traditional field. Boise’s famous field was eventually nicknamed the ‘smurf turf’ after the blue cartoon characters.

History of the Blue

BSU v. Nevada. Photo: Anna Daly/BoiseDev

In 1986, the first blue turf was installed, just 16 years after the current Bronco Stadium (now Albertsons Stadium), was built.

The idea came from Gene Bleymaier, who, at that time, was the Bronco athletic director. “With Boise State football in need of a new artificial turf, Bleymaier’s mind melded necessity and opportunity,” a USA TODAY article notes. His idea was called a “genius idea for the Broncos brand.”

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In 2011, BSU received a federal trademark registration for “the color blue as applied to artificial turf.” That same year, the Mountain West ruled that the team couldn’t wear blue jerseys on the field. Eventually, the conference retracted that rule – as several teams wear green and play on green turf.

Another thing to note, the NCAA does not ban non-traditional field colors, which is coined “Boise State Rule.” The NFL, however, only allows green turf.

Some have said that ducks mistake the blue turf for the Boise River and crash into it. However, according to the Boise State website, this is a myth. Click here for a list of many more Blue Turf myths from the Bleacher Report.

Boise isn’t the only team now sporting this color of field, the Luther College Norse in Iowa and the New Haven Chargers in Connecticut also have blue turfs.

For more information on how you can view on the blue, click here.

Corrections: An early version of this story said fans could walk on the turf. They can only tour it. It also imprecisely said the stadium was 16 years old at the time of the blue turf installation. Earlier versions of the stadium appeared on the same site.

Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at [email protected].

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