BOISE, Idaho — Boise State University will host its first home game of the 2021 season on the blue Friday night. This will be the first game played in front of a stadium full of Bronco fans since December 2019, when Boise State hosted the Mountain West championship game.
During the 2020 season, only 1,100 fans were let in Albertsons Stadium during each of the three home games.
On Sept. 2, Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp sent out an email to students and faculty warning that if COVID cases continue to rise on campus that events and activities could be postponed or canceled.
Preparations for game day are well underway at Boise State. Although all fans in attendance will be required to wear masks, there are no capacity limits.
Albertsons Stadium can hold up to 37,000 fans, and as of Wednesday, Boise State had only 4,500 tickets left for its home opener. All the while, the delta variant continues to swarm the Gem State, as COVID cases and hospitalizations rise.
“The situation that we see in our hospitals, I'm not sure that it's fully appreciated broadly across the community or across the state because of just the daily activities happening out and about,” said Dr. Mark Nassir, President of Saint Alphonsus Medical Group.
He added crisis standards of care were activated Tuesday for North Idaho, and that's impacting hospitals across the state. Dr. Nassir said Ada and Canyon counties are struggling to keep up with the volume of patients needing care.
“I think folks who attend the game should be aware that that would be a situation of significantly increased risk and exposure just because of the large number of people gathering in one place,” he said.
Although the university will require masks to be worn at the stadium, Dr. Nassir said the ability to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing can be difficult.
“We are anticipating that large gatherings of hundreds or thousands of people would result in increased cases that would be reaching our health care systems in the coming days afterward,” Dr. Nassir said.
He added, community support is needed and those who are going to the game need to think about their health, vaccination status, and the vaccination status of others around them. Although the university hopes for a full house, Dr. Nassir recommends capacity be limited for large gatherings like the game.
“Our teams are exhausted, and they are fraying and they are needing the help and support of the community to get through,” he said. “They are probably unable to sustain the level and effort of care they are providing, which is really above and beyond, much longer.”
Boise State University sent KTVB a statement in response to protocols for the upcoming game. It reads:
"Like all universities in Idaho, we continue to comply with all city, state, and athletic conference guidelines. And we will remain vigilant in monitoring COVID rates and respond accordingly. Boise State has been proactive, exceeding current local guidelines by requiring facial coverings indoors and in all crowded outdoor gatherings where physical distancing of 6-feet or more cannot be maintained. We home to maintain a safe atmosphere by masking, along with distancing and proper hygiene."
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