Word that we received late last night point to issues regarding dangerously loose seams in the synthetic Astro Play playing surface and questions about who would be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the turf, combined with the recent bankruptcy filing of Astro Play's parent company Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc. (SRI)
and the high cost of a replacement artificial surface leaves the school with no other option than to supplant the field with natural grass.
"It's sad, really sad, to see the blue go," said Syd Finch, Asst. Grounds Manager at BSU. "But the condition of the field has deteriorated far more quickly than anticipated, and our maintenance contract with SRI became suspect once they filed for Chapter 11. The cheapest option for the school is to install a natural grass surface."
The grass, a hybrid of Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass, is reportedly scheduled to be installed following the Bronco's annual spring Blue/Orange intra-squad game. Immediately following the game, removal of the Astro Play surface will commence, and installation of the irrigation system, drainage system and sod will begin.
Total costs for installing the new natural grass surface is estimated at $60,000, while the costs to install a new, blue artificial surface, like FieldTurf, would likely exceed $200,000. Annual maintenance costs to keep the grass field in top shape are estimated at $22,000, which makes grass a more cost-efficient option in the short term.
"This is decision based solely on cost," explained Finch. "If we could afford a new blue turf, we'd do it in a heartbeat, but our budget simply can't absorb that kind of hit."
Though artificial surfaces used to be more cost-effective than natural grass, thanks in part to it's comparatively minimal maintenance requirements, that is no longer the case. The new artificial surfaces have become so technologically advanced that grass has become the more affordable option. BSU hopes that the installation costs will be at least partly covered through souvenir sales of the blue turf, which will be sliced into various sizes and sold off.
After 18 years of watching college football on a blue field, it may take awhile for the Bronco faithful to get used to having a green field again.
"Hopefully this is just temporary," said Finch. "Who knows; if we're lucky, maybe someone will step up in two or three years and donate the funds to bring back a blue surface. I sure hope so."
For a full history of the Blue Turf at Boise State, including a photo montage of the many stages that have led up to this point, as well as statements from current and prior Bronco Coaching Staffs, Legendary Players, and incoming recruits, please click here to read the official announcement from BroncoSports.con.