The city of Caldwell's motto is "More to Offer," and the College of Idaho Coyotes are living up to it in a big way.
In 2014, the College of Idaho reintroduced football to its Caldwell campus and for the first time in nearly 40 years, the Boise State University Broncos aren't the only (college) game in town.
When the Coyotes—a.k.a. Yotes—started winning regularly last fall, fans began flocking to the Caldwell campus, adding Simplot Stadium to their list of game day destinations.
The team's success has driven more of an upturn in revenue than anyone anticipated for both the school and the city, and the reemergence of football fandemonium has also shaped a new image for the community.
Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas is among the Yotes' biggest fans.
"The football team has created a sense of excitement that I haven't seen in this community in a long, long time," Nancolas told Boise Weekly. "There's football fever in Caldwell again. It's really brought the community together."
Nancolas said the reincarnation of the football team has strengthened the bond between college and community, a relationship that brought in a number of jobs right out of the gate: C of I redeveloped Simplot Stadium, beginning with new Astroturf and continuing with upgrades to the press box, concession stands and restroom facilities.
Though C of I's other sports team have had equal success—the men's basketball team won 31 of its 38 games in the 2014-2015 season—none of the other squads have grabbed the attention of the city quite like football.
"The College of Idaho is one of those jewels in our crown," Nancolas said. "Adding football just took that to another level. You see purple all over the town now."
The school's royal purple has been plastered all over Caldwell in anticipation of the second season's home opener, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29. If the upcoming season is anything like last season, local businesses will once again realize some of the extra income football fever generates.
Nancolas estimated College of Idaho football has already generated approximately $4 million in new revenues, not counting a boost to employment.
"This program is bringing people to Caldwell that probably wouldn't have come here otherwise," Nancolas said. "We love it." While the business boom during football season has been great for public and private coffers, the team's intangible impact has gone even deeper. City officials insist that Yotes football is changing Caldwell's image for the better. One of the city's oldest and best-known events, the Caldwell Night Rodeo, has even been affected by C of I football, launching a special night to honor the program.
"[Football] helps us send the message that Caldwell is a great town," Nancolas said. "Those who live here know it's a great city. This gets other people over here to see how great it is. Having the football presence back at the College of Idaho is just another reason to tout how good Caldwell is," Nancolas said. "It's a partnership between higher education and the community. ... It means great things for businesses and all aspects of the community."
On the C of I gridiron, the game-changers themselves are getting ready. Coyotes Head Coach Mike Moroski and the rest of his staff are not only finalizing plans for the Aug. 29 kickoff, they're already recruiting for seasons to come. Moroski said talking to players about coming to College of Idaho includes making sure they understand the importance of being part of both the school and the community.
"We feel like we need more players so there's built in competition," Moroski said. "The other thing we look for are guys that will not only survive at the College of Idaho but also thrive academically, socially and in every way."
Moroski said he and his staff also want to keep increasing expectations for the team.
"I'm interested in building a unique and special program that will make the college proud ... and be a part of what the College of Idaho is all about," he said. "We're very careful on the recruiting front."
Moroski said his 2014 team started out inexperienced: the players only had about 20 games of college-level football experience between them.
"We'll be a lot better than last year," he said. "We hope to be competitive in all our games."
While the football community in Caldwell has expanded outside the school, relationships within the college are continuing to grow as well.
"We have a long way to go," Moroski said. "With every year that goes by more people ... realize [the football players] are regular students. I would like to see that relationship grow."