FARGO — If there is any hesitancy of fans returning to North Dakota State football games at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so far there is very little evidence.
Around 13,000 season tickets have been sold for the 2021 season in a stadium that carries a capacity of 18,700.
“I would say right now based on ticket sales, I would think they’ll come back en masse as we stand today,” said Bison athletic director Matt Larsen.
NDSU sent an email this week that the athletic department is taking requests for football season tickets. The caveat in the message was there was no guarantee in getting them.
That’s because there are only around 200 available in a season ticket base that has increased to 13,200.
It formerly was 12,500, but the student allotment has decreased in recent years because of a lack of attendance. Larsen said the ticket office is sorting through a waiting list among those 200 available.
“We always have some attrition or movement every year,” he said, “so I would say the (availability) is a little more than in years past.”
Single game tickets go on sale Aug. 15. Those in the past haven’t lasted long, at times being filled in a matter of under an hour. Between 1,700 and 2,740 are reserved for NDSU students depending on the game, leaving about 900-1,200 per game to the general public, although a membership in Team Makers booster club by Aug. 1 can secure a single game ticket for non-season ticket holders while supplies last. NDSU has other obligations like opposing team allotment.
The Bison open their season Sept. 4 against Albany (N.Y.) and host Valparaiso (Ind.) the following week. The four home Missouri Valley Football Conference games are Northern Iowa, Missouri State, Indiana State and South Dakota.
“I would anticipate we’ll be close to capacity,” Larsen said.
NDSU restricted fans in its lone game last fall against Central Arkansas to family and friends. It limited the capacity in its spring season to 50% capacity of the dome; and the actual attendance never did reach that.
The University of North Dakota game on March 20 was the highest with 9,121 fans. The Bison drew 6,528 against Youngstown State, 6,145 against Illinois State, 8,762 against South Dakota State and just 3,587 in the FCS playoff game against Eastern Washington. The average was 5,777.
NDSU averaged 17,440 in 2019 and has routinely sold out the facility in the last decade.
Tailgating is also returning to the game day event this fall after being canceled in the spring. Larsen expects that to be at a normal level of attendance in the west parking lot, also.