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A full bowl? Boise State starts initial work on stadium expansion, with many questions remaining

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Boise State University will take the first steps toward a large-scale expansion at Albertsons Stadium this month, with work focused first on the North End Zone.

The project, part of an overarching “athletics village” concept the school rolled out last spring, got initial approval from the Idaho State Board of Education at its meeting last month.

The school got approval to spend up to $2.5 million for design-build services, and the project itself could cost between $32 million and $40 million.

BoiseDev has submitted dozens of public records requests on the project and related projects in recent months, and the school has blocked or barred many of the records from becoming public, including using a novel interpretation of Idaho State Code to shield records from public scrutiny. The school has also worked to “protect” documents from scrutiny, and in at least one case, deleted a record that was subject to public release.

But records do show the school is looking at several different options to reconstruct the stadium’s north side, which could roll out over the next two to three years. The North End Zone reconstruction is one of the smaller components of the overall plan, part of an overall concept to increase stadium capacity to more than 40,000. More extensive concepts, for work on the east end and south end could come later.

First step

Boise State Athletics Village
Rendering of the Boise State Athletics Village concept. Via AECOM

Boise State Director of Athletics Jeramiah Dickey told BoiseDev that the next step is one in a longer process.

“It’s not just ‘let’s just change and close in this end zone,’ it impacts everything,” Dickey said. “Already, our concourse isn’t large enough for people to go to concessions, so lines have been crazy.”

Currently, the North End Zone utilizes bleachers that sit on the turf at the end of the field. The last significant expansion project at the stadium converted bleachers in the South End Zone in 2012 to a more permanent structure and connected the east and west concourse. But the NEZ, as fans call it, remains cut off from the rest of the stadium.

The initial early concept plans released last spring show a concept that would convert the bleachers to a bowl structure that would curve around and connect with the stadium grandstands on the east and west. It also depicts the concourse continuing all the way around, which would complete a ring around the stadium. In its initial form, the project does not consider seating on the second level, which is currently the exterior of the Bleymaier Football Complex.

Moving pieces

But Dickey said that a final plan isn’t set, and the process the state board approved would help get them there.

“We can’t put shovels in the ground until we go through this design-build process with the state board,” Dickey said. “That essentially lets us get the blueprints for whatever we want to build. Everything is a projection in terms of cost. We think of inflation and everything else – this process would really let us hone in on what this would cost, and… the blueprints.”

The preliminary construction timelines obtained under Idaho’s Public Records Act show construction work impacting one or possibly two football seasons. Dickey said there are many factors to consider when looking at construction.

“It impacts how the team enters, football operations, seating for the band… our partnership with the Potato Bowl (and more),” he said “There are so many pieces for this. When you take out that part of the stadium — you have to think through everything.”

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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