The Bison have finished another great regular season, yet they continue to have a problem. However, it is a problem a lot of FCS teams would like to have (as anyone who watched Youngstown and Indiana State play a potential win-and-in game in a deserted stadium can verify); more people would like to attend Bison games than can be accommodated by the Fargodome. As a Bison fan transplanted to ‘Bama country, I’ve noticed some local practices that could help to expand the game-day experience.
Alabama tailgating is a sight to behold. The most dedicated fans begin showing up on the Wednesday before game day. Of course, Southern weather is a bit more suited to this than the plains of North Dakota. Tailgating also lasts throughout the game, and a large fan contingent watches the game from the parking lots (the Tide sell out the 101,821 seats in Bryant-Denny Stadium on a regular basis). Shockingly, even with a large crowd of fervent fans, this does not result in Armageddon. Both the Bison and Sam Houston fans at Frisco last year put in a long, hard tailgating effort, and yet again, chaos did not ensue. This calls into question the rationale behind limiting the tailgate times at NDSU, especially when all of the Fargodome seating has been sold. Quite a few fans would likely enjoy celebrating games with a like-minded crowd in the lot as a consolation prize when tickets are unavailable.
Tailgating at NDSU has come a long way from a couple of rows of cars out in the mud back in the D2 days. Simply expanding the hours available to Bison fans would be a great way to keep improving the game day experience, and it has the nice feature of being nearly free to the University. For the time being, let’s enjoy the tailgating we have, and show our playoff opponents what fan support worthy of a championship looks like!