FARGO — Almost half of North Dakota State football fans who have a season ticket said no thanks to going to the Central Arkansas game.
For that reason, the original projection of allowing 10,000 fans to watch the Bison play Central Arkansas at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome on Oct. 3 has been lowered by around 16%. Of NDSU’s 13,500 season tickets, about 7,200 were requested for NDSU’s only game this fall, the rest postponed or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said Thursday the crowd will be closer to 8,400 in a facility that carries a seating capacity of 18,700. It means every season ticket holder who requested a ticket was accommodated.
“The good part of us getting the protocols out early is it allows people to make a decision what is best for them,” Larsen said. “I think some felt really comfortable coming to the game, some said we’ll do some stuff at home. Can’t tailgate here? I’ll tailgate at home and watch the game. I think there were varying opinions and positions from everybody but the good thing is folks that wanted to come were able to get tickets.”
The rest of the approximate 1,300 Central Arkansas game tickets will be made up of 250 NDSU students, suite holders, game sponsors, visiting team tickets and players and coaches families.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference moved its eight-game league season (four home and four on the road) to the spring, so NDSU’s season ticket holders are slated to have five home games from the original six that were part of the package.
NDSU has 3,300 accounts that comprise the 13,500 season tickets. Larsen said staff members are following up with every season ticket holder with a phone call to walk them through options for the one home game that is going unfulfilled.
That includes transitioning the ticket into a donation to NDSU athletics and receiving double priority points, push that cost to a 2021 season ticket or request a refund. There are people who disagree with NDSU allowing fans in the game, Larsen said, but he said getting the COVID-19 protocols to the public three weeks ago was an important part of the process.
“I think with most decisions, there are folks in favor and folks that aren’t,” Larsen said. “What I always go back to, you hope every decision we make that we’re well informed in that decision and try to do what’s in the best interest of the folks that are there. I understand some folks disagree and I respect those opinions but I feel good about what we have in place and the plans we have in place. All of that said, we have to rely that the folks in attendance are following protocols just like we see in the community.”
Season ticket holders will be permitted to sit in their assigned seats, but seats throughout the stadium will be left open for fans wanting some space.
NDSU’s cheer team will be at the UCA game but not on the field. They’ll be in the venue, however, helping hand out masks to fans who don’t have one and probably be stationed in the concourse corners throughout the game.
And although not inside, the Gold Star Marching Band will be part of the game day atmosphere outside of the dome playing as fans enter the facility. The band’s school fight song is being pre-recorded.
Tailgating will not be allowed in the dome parking lots. Moreover, buses, trailers or recreational vehicles will not be allowed on the premises.