By Chadd Cripe
Boise State expects to break ground on Dona Larsen Park next year, beginning the process of expanding Bronco Stadium.
Boise State on Wednesday announced a $5 million combined pledge from the Williams and Caven families. Combined with other fund-raising, Boise State has raised $6.3 million for the stadium expansion since unveiling the master plan in August.
Boise State already had a $2.5 million donation from the David and Debra Larsen Huber Family Foundation for Dona Larsen Park, which will feature a track and high school football stadium. The park on the former East Junior High site will allow Boise State to remove the track from Bronco Stadium.
All told, Boise State has $8.8 million.
The Dona Larsen Park project is expected to cost about $5 million. The rest of the first phase of the stadium expansion — about 5,000 seats and a football complex in the north end zone — is expected to cost about $30 million.
The press release indicated the $5 million donation was earmarked for the football complex, but Boise State considers Dona Larsen Park, the extra seating and the football complex one project.
"The money that we've raised right now will help us to do all three of those things," athletic director Gene Bleymaier said.
Dona Larsen Park should be completed in the next couple of years. Bleymaier still is a long way from developing a timeline for the rest of the project. Boise State must raise the majority of the money.
"We will start getting plans put together to move forward with moving the track," Bleymaier said. "... We will hire an architect and really get down to brass tacks about designing what kind of facility we want over there."
Bleymaier isn't sure yet what the first phase of stadium expansion will look like. The football complex is planned as part of a seating addition in the north end zone.
He hopes the $5 million gift will spur the fund-raising drive. The Williams and Caven families will have some naming-rights opportunities, but not on the stadium itself.
"It's tremendous," Bleymaier said of the gift. "It gives it credibility and certainly gives it a boost and creates momentum most importantly. As we go and talk to other donors, they know that it is going to happen, that it can be a reality and that it's just a matter of time to get the necessary commitments. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get the first lead gift, so I can't thank the Williamses and Cavens enough for stepping forward like this."
Here's the news from earlier today:
Longtime Boise State donors Larry and Marianne Williams and Jerry and Muriel Caven have pledged a total of $5 million toward Bronco Stadium expansion — money that is earmarked to build the new football complex on the north end.
The football complex, 5,000 seats and the completion of Dona Larsen Park — where the track will be relocated — represent Phase I of the stadium master plan.
"We are at a significant disadvantage in supporting a nationally ranked team with half the number of seats to raise the revenue to pay for the program and thereby forcing us to raise ticket prices too often," Boise State president Bob Kustra said in a press release.
The Cavens and Williamses previously contributed $3 million to the indoor football practice facility, called the Caven-Williams Sports Complex.
The timing of this donation could be key. Boise State football coach Chris Petersen has said repeatedly that as long as the Broncos program keeps growing, he's likely to stay.
Still, it was unclear in the release what the donation does to the timeline for construction. I'll have more later in the day.