Movin’ on up

With the recent turmoil in the Bison football schedule and our latest successes, discussion of moving to the FBS has begun to spring up. The Bison do need to move up, but this will require extensive resources and a sustained commitment from NDSU, the Herd, and the North Dakotan people. It won’t happen overnight (or even next year), but with inspired leadership and the steadfast support of the BisonNation, NDSU could be competitive at college football’s highest level.

To be competitive in the FBS, NDSU will need to build a new stadium. The Fargodome is a great place to play football, and I along with most of the Bison faithful have great memories there, but it is not capable of hosting a successful FBS program. While the Fargodome’s capacity allows NDSU to rank near the top of the FCS in attendance 9 (9th in 2011 and 6th in 2012), it is less than half of the average attendance at an FBS football game (46,074 in 2011). Without the revenue and fan exposure generated by this level of attendance, maintaining the staff and training facilities and recruiting top players would not be feasible. NDSU’s current attendance does best some of the lower-end FBS programs, but with nearly every team we’ve beaten in the playoffs contemplating a move up, the bottom of the FBS is likely to be very crowded for the foreseeable future. With the heavy competition for conference bids, a facility upgrade could well make the difference between languishing in the bottom of the Sun Belt conference and joining the Big 10 to thwart Minnesota’s attempt to escape us.

Building a reasonable FBS stadium, although it would require a major resource commitment, would not be infeasible. At a construction cost of approximately $6,700 per seat, which is roughly what Paul Brown Stadium and Qwest Field cost, a 45,000 seat stadium could be built for 300 million dollars. Boise State hosted only 34,018 fans per game in 2011, and building a stadium to host that many fans could be accomplished for about 230 million dollars. Building this type of stadium would provide NDSU and Fargo with a state-of-the-art multipurpose facility, and give the Bison a venue that would prove they belong in the FBS. If the Bison could sell out this stadium on a regular basis, they would be drawing about as many fans as Purdue, Pitt, or Rutgers, which are not bad company. Watching the Bison play a home game to a sold out house against the likes of Minnesota or Air Force would be an incredible experience I hope we all get to enjoy someday.

Sources:

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/stats/football/attendance/index.html

http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/06/expensive-stadiums-america-forbeslife-cx_ae_0806sports_slide_2.html?thisSpeed=15000

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/april-04-08/a-closer-look-at-stadium-subsidies

13 thoughts on “Movin’ on up

  1. Sorry but it’s not gonna happen dream on. Just wait until you lose to Kansas state and than reality will sink in, you can’t compete with the bigger schools, in fact the next time you play minnesota it’ll be a loss. And yes bigger schools will be too good to step foot in a small town like fargo, quit trying to make you guys feel bigger than you really are. I bet if you ask anyone outside of fargo who won the national football championship they will say Alabama, not NDSU,

  2. While I don’t agree with everything MN182 just said, there is a ring of truth for most of that comment.
    Build a bigger stadium, for Mr. Decker’s pleasure of seeing the Bison move up??? And where do you think the butts in the seats will come from? Even with our population growth now, I can’t see over 22K per game coming to 6 home games, and that is to see a winning Bison team (seriously folks, they won’t keep winning at this rate forever). Sell that to the taxpayers!

  3. Ouch, biting comments from a Minnesota fan. Well if anybody knows about building a nice expensive football stadium and not having anyone show up to the games and have a losing team… it is a Minnesota fan. Thank goodness the NFL will move into the Stadium and add even more to it for no one to show on Saturday’s. Please excuse us for having to move up from Division II, and win at the level we are at. Yes we even aspire to be like the Gophers, middle of the pack to bottom feeder of the Big Ten.

  4. Frankly it’s only a matter of time before NDSU will have to make another move. I’m guessing once the BCS conferences break from the NCAA and form their own organization there will be a need to move up to compete with peer schools such as those in the MWC, MAC, etc. NDSU has shown that they can certainly compete against the lower half of teams in the FBS on a consistant basis. There is no reason why NDSU cannot be the next Boise State given an upgrade in stadium and scholarship funding. Put a winning team on the field and they could easily draw 30,000 per game playing at the next level. Of course you have to be able to handle down years too!

  5. I followed your argument until you talked about moving into the Big 10. That’s not going to happen but a lower FBS conference is definately attainable.

    We do need a plan for expanding the FargoDome or figuring out what type of stadium the Bison should have down the road.

    For now FCS is great, extended seasons through playoff games and national championships make the fan experience perfect for me.

  6. People talk about the Bison becoming the next Boise State; conversely, look what happened to Marshall U.?
    Also, is the city or NDSU so flush with cash that a new stadium is going to happen?

  7. I am glad there is finally talk about this. With the oil revenues it is a possibility, and also people will show up. There is nothing better to do on a Saturday than tailgate and see a great game. 30,000 should not be a problem.

  8. Where would you build it? Would you implode the Fargodome? The Mountain West would be a great place for NDSU if they moved up. The MAC would be the number 2 choice.

    • A new stadium would have to go where the dome is currently or to the east of University Drive. I actually think there is a way to increase the capacity of the dome but not sure if that is cost effective.

      As far as the conference I would rather the MAC expand to 16 schools by adding NDSU, SDSU and NI. That would make for 8 teas in the east and west divisions. Which would be better for traveling then the MWC. It would also include our recruiting base of Wisconsin which I’m not sure how many kids from there would want to come to NDSU if we were in the MWC.

  9. Wow. I apparently hit a nerve with this one. A few points:

    NDSU does have a winning record against FBS schools. We weren’t playing Alabama or Notre Dame, sure, but we could compete in the MAC or MWC in a fairly short period of time. With more exposure and resources, we could build the ability to compete in a better conference over time.

    This wouldn’t be an order of magnitude larger than other projects undertaken in the North Dakota University System. The Ralph Englestad Arena cost over $100 million to host only about 12,000 fans. UND also recently tried to raise $100 million for the sake of having $100 million. At least we would have a use for the money.

    Finally, I would enjoy games in a new stadium, but presumably the other 44,999 fans in attendance would also be enjoying themselves. Except for the few Gopher fans there, who would probably be sad about the score.

  10. MN182 – “..the next time you play Minnesota it’ll be a loss.” If it were next year, I suspect we’d not only win – we’d pitch a shutout. We should be 3 for 3, if not for a missed FG…and you know it. Winning 2 in a row (almost 3) at a scholarship disadvantage is not a fluke. It is a sign of a better program. The best part is, the Gopher program has degraded to the point where it finds itself trolling on a FCS fan blog, looking to talk smack. I suspect I’ll never hear back now that I’ve pointed that out.

    Go Bison. I’m talkin’ 3-peat.

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