Playing the numbers game

Bronco Stadium has seen its share of sporting events over the past 35 years, including 8 MPC/Humanitarian Bowls, countless high school football games, the NCAA Track and Field Championships and other events. But the heart of Bronco Stadium is its namesake and primary reason for being: Bronco football, a program that's grown steadily over the years into the top 15 program it is today.

In 1970, the first year Bronco Stadium, Boise State averaged 8,543 fans per game despite an overflowing crowd of 14,028 for the grand opening against Cal State - Chico, a game the Broncos won handily, 49-14. Last year, BSU averaged a record 30,499 fans. That's an increase of 357%. In other words, if the next 35 years are as prosperous, Bronco Stadium will require a capacity of 107,100 by 2040. Might need a third deck for that.

1970 was also the last year BSU averaged less than 10,000 fans/game over the course of a season. In 1974, BSU attracted an average of 14,100 fans per game, or 100.7% of capacity, the first time they effectively sold out the season. Fortunately, the east upper deck was added by the next season, and attendance made an impressive leap to a record 18,485 fans per game in 1975.

Between 1975 and 1997, attendance remained steady, highlighted in 1989 as BSU topped more than 20,000 per game for the first time, reaching 20,042.

The move to 1A in 1996 and the subsequent expansion of Bronco Stadium's south wings the following year provided another spark. Average attendance in 1997 was a then-record 23,543.

But the most significant attendance surge has happened since 2000, culminating last season with BSU's first ever season of over 30,000 fans per home game. In fact, last year's total of 30,499/game represents nearly 102% of capacity, a number that may not be surpassed until further expansion takes place.

To truly appreciate the steady growth of Boise State football's popularity over the years, consider that the program set record average home attendance numbers in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Such consistent growth is the mark of a strong program and ever-increasing fan base.

In fact, as you can see from the chart below, fan attendance has virtually mirrored the growth of the BSU program from the days of Tony Knap and the Big Sky through the current Hawkins era in the WAC. Last year's record crowds indicate that we've maxed out the current configuration, and if we hope to continue this trend, the time is prime for another Bronco Stadium expansion. Here's hoping it happens soon!

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