facebook pixel Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home

ISU alumna makes lead gift to Bengal Village

February 1, 2008

Pocatello resident and Idaho State University alumna Sylvia Papenberg ’64 has made the lead donation to ISU’s proposed Bengal Village athletics complex, ISU Athletics officials announced Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Papenberg’s gift of 40 acres of land in eastern Idaho’s rapidly growing Teton Valley is the largest single gift in ISU Athletics’ history, university officials said.

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 gift for the Bengal Village complex will help fund Miller Ranch Stadium, which will be the new home of ISU softball.

The gift takes advantage of more than $73 million in naming opportunities that the Bengal Village complex provides in exchange for appropriate donations. It gives Papenberg the naming rights to Papenberg Field, the new outdoor practice facility for Idaho State football.

The land’s appraised value is approximately $1.5 million, ISU officials said. The university will sell the land to help fund the proposed Bengal Village, a gift-funded complex that is estimated to cost $86 million to $103 million.

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.”

The contribution was announced at 1 p.m. Wednesday at a news conference in the ISU Sports Medicine Center. It was followed by a private reception in the Barbara J. Marshall Rotunda, in ISU’s L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center. Papenberg met privately with Idaho State’s softball team to announce the gift and Miller Ranch Stadium.

"It's gratifying for this to be the largest single gift ever received by the athletic department and it's the first gift towards making Bengal Village become a reality," said Paul A. Bubb, ISU director of athletics.  "Sylvia is a devoted Bengal fan and alumna. I appreciate the fact that her and Don’s interest in our program led them to decide to make this gift now, demonstrating to others how we can all work together to make our university even better with this kind of private gift support."

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 recently retired after more than 20 years in banking.

At ISU, she played softball, volleyball and basketball in the university’s 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.”

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.

“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.

Papenberg Field is envisioned as a full-field synthetic turf playing surface that not only will be utilized by the football team for practice, but can be used for a variety of other ISU sports if needed, as well as for other entities such as the ISU Marching Band.

The contribution is the first announced lead gift for Bengal Village, an athletic facility master plan that was unveiled in September 2006. It will change ISU’s upper-campus landscape.

The Bengal Village plan includes a new indoor practice complex, an athletic center, a new basketball/volleyball arena, and tennis courts.  The towns of Pocatello and Chubbuck will hold a bond vote on February 5th that if passes will direct $24 million to repairs and upgrades for Holt Arena, the nation’s oldest domed football stadium on a college campus, a facility which brings an estimated $30-$50 into the Pocatello and Chubbuck economies through the variety of events hosted there.

Bengal fans and boosters interested in donating to Bengal Village are encouraged to contact the ISU Foundation office at (208) 282-3470, or the athletic development office at (208) 282-2397.


University News