Artist's rendition of Miller Ranch Stadium
Image Credit: Myers • Anderson

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Papenberg Gift Makes Athletics Upgrades

Pocatello resident and Idaho State University alumna Sylvia Papenberg '64 has made the largest single gift in the history of ISU Athletics, 40 acres of land in eastern Idaho's Teton Valley.

The gift gives Papenberg the naming rights to Papenberg Field, the planned new outdoor practice facility for Idaho State football.

Papenberg Field is envisioned as a full-field synthetic turf playing surface. It will be utilized by the football team for practice, but can be used for a variety of other ISU sports and such as the ISU Marching Band.

Sale of the land will also help fund Miller Ranch Stadium, which will be the new home of ISU softball. Miller is Sylvia Papenberg's maiden name.

Miller Ranch Stadium will be on the site of football's current south practice field. The stadium will be enclosed with bleachers, a full scoreboard, and such amenities as restrooms, a concessions area, storage spaces and a press box.

The arched entryway to Miller Ranch Stadium will bear the name and the two Miller Ranch brands.

Sylvia Papenberg is the widow of the late ISU alumnus and Sports Hall of Fame honoree Don "Pappy" Papenberg '63. He died Jan. 8.

"I have come to regard Sylvia as a true member of the ISU family," said University President Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D. "She means so much to us."

The land's appraised value is approximately $1.2 million, ISU officials said.

The land, near Victor, formerly housed the family ranch, Miller Ranch, where the family raised Hereford cattle.

"Miller Ranch was my mom and dad's," Papenberg said. The ranch originally was 600 to 700 acres. "I had a great childhood there. I really liked the horses and the livestock, and my brothers, well, they liked the tractors."

Sylvia Papenberg, an Idaho native, graduated from Teton High School in Driggs before attending Idaho State University. In 1964 she received a degree in secondary education with a minor in psychology. She was a teacher for several years, and retired after more than 20 years in banking.

At Idaho State University, she played softball, volleyball and basketball in club and intramural systems prior to women's intercollegiate athletics.

Don Papenberg played football at Idaho State from 1959-60, helping the Bengals to a 12-4 mark overall, and a 1959 Rocky Mountain championship in their last season in the league.

The Papenbergs had arranged for the Teton Valley property to be willed to ISU Athletics. In November 2007, however, they had a change of heart.

"We started thinking, why wait?" Sylvia Papenberg recalled. "We decided it was time to do it, so we did."

"Pappy" Papenberg, an ardent ISU Athletics booster, was public relations director for the United Dairymen of Idaho. His active and sustained support for ISU earned him the university's prestigious Bartz Award in 1998.