Boise State’s blue turf has become synonymous with its program. With the Broncos’ success in recent years, the unique field has gained more notoriety. An unconfirmed rumor involving the “Smurf Turf” and dead birds has added to the field’s legend. From where did this tall tale originate and is there any truth to it?
As we know, rumors can take on a life of their own. Just like there will always be people that believe Elvis Presley and Tupac Shakur are still alive, many people believe that there have been a gaggle of dead birds found on Boise State’s ocean-blue field, which, as the story goes, the birds have mistaken for a body of water.
Do a simple Google search for information about Boise State’s “Smurf Turf,” and you will find that the dead birds are mentioned almost by rote, despite there being no proof that any birds ever died on the carpet.
According to sports-venue.info, the dead birds are listed as part of the myths that surround Bronco Stadium and its field.
Let’s provide a little history of the Broncos’ home field. In 1970, Boise State’s Bronco Stadium opened as a replacement for the original stadium that went up in 1950.
But that was a different era of Boise State football, one in which the blue turf wasn’t even a pipe dream. But in 1986, the Broncos replaced their cookie-cutter green astroturf with a blue version.
The blue turf idea was concocted by athletic director Gene Bleymaier, who, incidentally, was recently fired by the school in light of an NCAA investigation into Boise State athletics. It was mostly just for attention, but also worked because Boise State was a member of the Big Sky Conference at the time.
When the field was installed and still needed line markers, it was dubbed “Lake Bleymaier” and, according to the L.A. Times, a local radio station started a hoax that birds were crashing into the field mistaking it for a body of water.
It’s not that far-fetched. If birds can routinely meet their demise by flying head first into giant glass windows, mistaking the blue field for a lake seemed plausible.
Knowing that all publicity is good publicity, Boise State hasn’t exactly shot down the rumors over the years.
“I can neither confirm nor deny,” Bleymaier told the L.A. Times about the legend last year.
“We do our best to perpetuate that myth, so to speak,” head coach Chris Petersen said in 2007.
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