It’s been well documented over the last four years: Boise State football fans are fed up with 8:15 p.m. kickoffs.
Season ticket sales were down a year ago, dropping from 21,373 in 2015, to 19,529 in 2016, the lowest number of season tickets sold since 2006.
When the stadium sits half-empty late into the Boise night, and fans decide to listen on their radios as they drive home to watch the rest of the game, the Boise State student section is usually the first portion of Albertsons stadium packing their bags and walking out the gates.
The frigid temperatures in late November can quickly steer students away from game attendance. Considering the game is on ESPN, freshmen students can watch in their dormitories’ common rooms instead of waiting for their hands to freeze off.
“My first game here was a day game and that was fun. It was warm, it was sunny, I wanted to stay,” said Boise State student Malaiyah Campbell. “At night it gets cold and windy, and I want to go home.”
Last season the average temperature for the six home games was 59 degrees at kickoff.
Moving to a Power Five conference may be another way to keep the seats filled for an entire game.
The highlight on the home schedule last season: Washington State, a middle-of-the-road PAC-12 opponent.
Despite not seeing big names on the home slate, games at Albertsons Stadium in 2016 were still close, with an average margin of victory of 8.5 points a game for Boise State
Home games in 2015 were a mixed bag. The Broncos lost two home games, but the four that they won were by an average of 32.5 points per game.
The pace of play has a major effect on students’ decisions to stay or leave at halftime. If it’s an 8:15 p.m. kickoff, that doesn’t give students enough time to go home and change before they make it to the nearest party.
Five of the six home games in the Fall were 8:15 p.m. kickoffs with the other game starting at 7:05 p.m. Five of the 8:15 p.m. starts finished up at 11:45 p.m. or later, with the BYU game ending as late as 12:20 a.m.
“Even if it was an evening game, and it started at five and ended at 10, it’s still not too cold and it is early enough for people to go and get ready for parties,” Campbell said.
In 2017, the Broncos will have two 6 p.m. start times. The first is against New Mexico on Sept. 14 and the second is against University of Virginia on Sept. 22.
The last time an afternoon game was played on the Blue was September 7, 2013 versus University of Texas-Martin.
Also in 2013, the Mountain West inked a new deal with ESPN that gave the worldwide leader in sports the full rights to any game played on the Blue turf.
The contract lasts through the 2019-2020 academic year.
“I’ve had conversations with both the coach, the athletic director and the conference commissioner. The ESPN contract runs out in two years. We’re already, as a conference, discussing, what happens then?” Boise State President Bob Kustra said. “Do we commit to a television channel that a generation ago everyone watched, but now in 2020, anyone under the age of 30 is watching a football game or a basketball game on their computer or laptops?”
Whatever happens with the new television contract, students can bet Boise State will make a big play to get some more day games for its fans.
“We need to find some middle ground here, where every now and then there is a football game on Saturday afternoon, wouldn’t that be something?” Kustra said.