The following entry is from guest blogger and avid Bronco fan, Brian Dickens
My 2-year old Mia and I are psyching ourselves up for our trip to Idaho’s 3rd largest city this Saturday. I’m not referring to Pocatello, but to the gargantuan, multi-cultural, trans-economic, blue and orange tent city that materializes around Bronco Stadium coincident with any Boise State home-game. Tailgate sprawl has spilled across campus, across the Boise River, and at least a full block from the stadium in every direction and transformed this once-tranquil parking lot into a nearly square-mile RC Willey home-theater showroom. With an estimated population of about 55,000 at game-time this year, the tent-city—I’m going to go out on a limb here and simply name it Petersen, Idaho since that name doesn’t appear to be taken—has effectively taken up the #3 population ranking (coincidence?) whenever the Broncos are in town. Petersen trails only Boise and Nampa and with the planned stadium expansion and the possibility of a double-deck tailgate lot by 2015, Nampa could be in trouble.
Two Saturday’s ago, when College Gameday was in town, my 4-year-old, Reagan and I ventured into Petersen at about 5:30 am with what the ABC/ESPN sports crew said was about 13,000 of our closest friends (well, I saw lots of Vandal, Duck, Cougar, and Buckeye outfits in the crowd, so “friends” might be a stretch). We had a great time and hung around “town” most of the day, but by the time the game was over—we’ve been priced into the north end-zone—Reagan was so overwhelmed with post-euphoric crowd syndrome that he actually said that his baby sister Mia could go next time. This from a DIE-HARD fan who has been attending games and singing the fight song front-to-back since he was 2.
If you haven’t seen him yet, check out his you-tube video from last year:
Petersen itself is a great little town. I’m thinking that the town council must have passed some sort of ordinance or covenants about paint colors on dwellings and vehicles, but there doesn’t seem to be any building codes or standards for either one! You can find everything from beach umbrellas or lawn-chairs-only all the way up to 40 ft “tour” busses, all decked out in Orange & Blue. There’s lots of travel trailers, panel vans, and a few “renovated” Champion motorhomes from the 70’s that I never thought I’d see on the road again (and probably shouldn’t!). Some of the residential lots—on the north and west ends of town even have lawns! The economic strata represented in Petersen are remarkably proportionate to Boise itself. You definitely have the stainless-steel 20-foot backyard grill crowd that watch the pre-game on a satellite-fed, 65-inch flat panel—built in to the side of their custom motorhome—then ride the Broncovator up to their Stueckle penthouses to watch the actual game; but in the “lot” right next to them you’ll find three guys with their bodies painted blue, roasting Wal-mart hotdogs on a three-legged Kingsford while they play “redneck” horseshoes (or is it golf?) and they don’t even have tickets for the game—they tune in to Paul J. and Bob Beeler on AM radio and gauge the roars from the stadium to find out what happens.
Most of the rest of Petersen, Idaho is made up of middle-class blue- and white-collar (I prefer to be called “orange-collar”) folks like Reagan and Mia and me who bring burgers and dogs and steaks and salmon and cook ‘em on Webers and less-pretentious propane grills. While lots of us do have non-penthouse tickets for the game, a lot of us also prefer to just hang out in the parking lot and watch the game with some of our other 55,000 buddies on various sizes of TVs.
So if you’re out for a weekend drive in Idaho sometime this fall, take the University Drive exit off of the Chris Petersen Parkway (aka Broadway) and visit Petersen, Idaho. Unless your team happens to be playing the Broncos that weekend, you’ll be glad you did!