Bison fans cope in first Fargodome game with metal detectors
FARGO — Getting into the Fargodome on Saturday for the North Dakota State football team's season opener was a little different than in previous years.
The Fargodome installed metal detectors in February. Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game marked the first regular-season Bison home game with the detectors in place.
Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik said the process to get into Saturday's game was slightly slower with the increased security, but people he saw didn't seem to have much issue with it.
Nick Kuzas, a resident of Fargo and NDSU football fan whose family has had season tickets for more than 20 years, did take note of the longer wait time.
"In previous years it was a breeze. Could get into the dome in under five minutes," Kuzas said. "Today, there was definitely an extended wait time. I'd say we were waiting in line for about 30 minutes."
Kuzas' recommendation to help maximize efficiency is to make sure people have everything removed from their pockets as they prepare to walk through the metal detectors.
Fans were encouraged to arrive an hour to an hour and a half in advance. Sobolik said this caused slightly more people to arrive early, about 1 p.m. for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, than in prior years.
Sobolik said nothing out of the ordinary happened while people were getting into the game. There were some items that had to be left behind, such as pocket knives, but there were no major issues.
"Overall, it went pretty good," Sobolik said.
He was pleased that people made an effort to find the fastest way to get in. He noticed people walking from the west side, where tailgating is, to the east side entrance when they wanted to enter the Dome.
"That's encouraging that people are paying attention and looking for the shortest lines," Sobolik said.
The total cost of the detectors was about $110,000, according to Sobolik. He said adding metal detectors was for safety.
"It's one that has become somewhat expected from large events operators," Sobolik said.
Since the Fargodome implemented its new additions, it has hosted several big events such as Disney on Ice and the NDSU Green and Gold spring game. Sobolik said they usually receive positive and negative feedback after bigger events.
He said he's heard a lot of comments saying, "thank you" and, "It's good to see (the metal detectors)." Others have commented on a longer wait time to get in and have asked, "Why are you doing this? It's Fargo, N.D."
With the first Bison game behind him, Sobolik said he was pleased with how it went. He said there will be recap meetings to see if any tweaks have to be made.
Sobolik wanted to thank the fans who came out to Saturday's Bison game.
"A general thank you for the patrons for their patience and understanding and paying attention to information sent out. ... We want to make the experience as positive as possible," Sobolik said.