Boise State University football fans will have one less watering hole available when the Broncos face off against the Washington State University Cougars on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Huddle, which was inside the Caven-Williams Sports Complex, was a pre-game tailgate party alternative with alcoholic beverages, food, big-screen TVs and even children's activities. It has gone dark following the reversal of an Idaho State Board of Education decision to allow universities to serve alcohol at sporting events.
"I and other members of the board agree that it's never good policy to have a policy, then waive it repeatedly," said board member Dr. David Hill, referring to a Board of Ed policy prohibiting public colleges and universities from serving alcohol at sporting events except in a "clearly marked, secure area," where those being served have a "written invitation" from the university.
The board voted in 2015 to provide an exception to the policy as part of a pilot program that allowed Boise State and the University of Idaho to serve alcohol at The Huddle and The Fan Zone, respectively.
During its June 16 meeting, however, the board voted 7-1 against extending the exception for a second year, effectively shutting down The Huddle and the U of I's Fan Zone. When asked if any incidents at or complaints against The Huddle prompted the board's decision, Boise State Assistant Athletic Director Max Corbet said, "No, not that I'm aware of anything, no."
The board made a point of acknowledging The Huddle's short but clean track record. Board President Emma Atchley said rather than game-day incidents, the hypothetical problem of a minor being served alcohol drove the board's decision.
"We felt that we substantially increased and changed the availability of alcohol at football games in situations where minors and students were a part of the whole area," Atchley said before voting to nix the exception.
Hill pushed back, arguing the exception was being taken away capriciously.
"There are metrics, parameters, expectations that ask, 'Did it work? Were there any issues?' And on that basis, 'Should we change policy?' I felt that we had not gone through the appropriate process," Hill later said.
The Huddle was conceived as a way for Bronco fans to gear up for game-day inside the Caven-Williams Sports Complex but, in its first year, The Huddle's expenses—including security, setup and utilities—ran into the red to the tune of approximately $12,000.
"We were trying it out and seeing how it would go," said Corbet. "We wanted to help our fans out; to make it a first-class experience. We were hoping one day our crowds would grow, and it would become profitable."