By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
The State Board of Education quickly and unanimously approved two major projects for the Boise State football program Thursday.
The board gave the school permission to build a $22 million football complex in the north end zone of Bronco Stadium and add 3,300 bleacher seats for the 2012 season.
Also, the State Board unanimously approved the contract for new Athletic Director Mark Coyle. The five-year deal includes a $325,000 per year salary, a $75,000 one-time bonus, a $700,000 buyout for the first three years, a $125,000 bonus if he completes the contract and performance incentives that can max out at $120,000 in a given year.
The football complex has been in the works for at least a year. Boise State’s commitment to build it was part of the pitch to keep coach Chris Petersen from exploring the Stanford job after last season. The 69,000-square-foot complex will include coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, locker room, equipment room, training room, weight room, players lounge and recruiting lounge. Here is a site with conceptual photos of the complex and a way for fans to donate.
Boise State has raised $7 million for the complex and has $5.5 million more in potential pledges. The school plans to take a financing plan to the board in February and break ground in the spring.
The bleacher project will increase stadium capacity to 36,800 and allow for crowds in excess of 37,000. It’s a $3.1 million expense that has been added to the Dona Larsen Park project, which costs $6 million and was funded entirely with donations.
The bleachers in Bronco Stadium — about 5,200 seats in the two end zones and the northwest corner — will be moved to Dona Larsen Park, the high school football and track and field complex.
Those seats will be replaced with about 8,500 seats in the same locations. The bleachers likely will be built up in the south end zone so that they connect to the concourse on one or both sides and allow fans to enter there instead of at field level. The seats in the northwest corner likely will be rounded to form part of the eventual lower bowl expansion on the north end. The design is still in progress.
The athletic department will pay for the project with an internal loan from the university. Seat revenue will pay for the loan in 3 ½ years if they’re sold out, and Vice President for Finance and Administration Stacy Pearson told the board that shouldn’t be a problem.
“They’re the lower-cost seats and we have always filled those up, so I feel pretty confident with that estimate,” she said.
Interim Athletic Director Curt Apsey said one benefit of the new seats will be the ability to offer more family plans. Those sell out quickly.
“We need some seats in the stadium that are a little more affordable,” he said. “We need to be careful in terms of adding seats. Some people come in and add (10,000-15,000) seats and they sit empty for five years. We don’t want to do that. We want to gradually get there and continue to be sold out.”
Boise State sold out its first four games this season. Students didn’t use all their tickets for the last two games and not all of them were sold.