FARGO -- North Dakota State will be returning to Minneapolis to play a football game, only this time it won’t be the University of Minnesota. The Bison and Butler University will face each other at Target Field on Aug. 31, 2019.
Get ready Minneapolis, here comes another onslaught of NDSU fans.
“Generally speaking, Bison fans are Twins fans who have come to love our ballpark,” said Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter. “And I expect they’ll love it for football as well.”
It will be the second game the baseball home of the Twins will host. Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals St. Thomas and St. John’s are scheduled to play next September.
Butler is a FCS non-scholarship member of the Pioneer Football League. The last time the Bison faced a Pioneer team was its first-ever Division I game in 2004 when they hosted Valparaiso.
It will also be NDSU’s fourth game in Minneapolis after splitting with the Gophers at the Metrodome losing in 2006 and winning in ’07 and beating the Gophers in 2011 at TCF Bank Stadium. In all three cases, Bison fans swarmed both venues.
It’s also a supplement of sorts for the Bison not being able to land a game with a regional Big Ten or Big 12 conference opponent anymore. NDSU is playing at Oregon in 2020 and at Colorado in 2024.
“With the Big Ten and losing those games, people can’t drive to Nebraska, Iowa or Wisconsin,” said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. “They can get to the Twin Cities. Right now it’s difficult to find those guarantee games and this is the next best thing.”
The Twins are taking over NDSU’s guarantee of $185,000 to Butler plus paying NDSU up to $600,000 based on attendance, Larsen said. The exact capacity of Target Field for football hasn’t been determined yet, St. Peter said, but it will be somewhere close to 40,000.
Ticket prices will be set at a later date. They will not be part of the NDSU season ticket package but season ticket holders will have an opportunity to purchase tickets in advance of the public.
The university has a large alumni base in the Twin Cities numbering about 13,900. Moreover, it’s a prime recruiting area for the football program and Klieman said the younger players on his team now will have an experience they’ll never forget.
The field will be set up from the Twins dugout on the first base side toward the left field fence. For the most part, the genesis of the game came when the Twins hosted the 2015 NDSU title team at a game in June and Klieman threw out the first pitch.
That’s when Larsen, Klieman and St. Peter got into a discussion on non-baseball events at Target Field.
“That led to conversations throughout the summer,” Larsen said.
Helping matters is a 12-game schedule FCS teams will be allowed to play in 2019 because of the way the calendar falls. The Bison will still have six home games, including hosting the University of North Dakota on Sept. 7 and traveling to Delaware on Sept. 14.
Larsen said the administration from Butler, based in Indianapolis, Ind., was on board from the get-go.
“They were also excited for their fan base,” Larsen said.