|DAVID SANSOM/ Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota:
NORTH DAKOTA STATE FANS
By Jeff Kolpack, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, N.D.
FARGO, North Dakota — The story that is now becoming legendary – North Dakota State fans ate and drank the adjacent suburbs of Frisco and Plano, Texas, out of house and home – is also serving as a word of warning. Be prepared.
NDSU’s Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinal victory over Georgia Southern on Friday night qualified Bison fans to return to the scene of a Texas-sized party. NDSU plays for the national title Jan. 5 in Frisco at FC Dallas Stadium, located about 20 miles north of Dallas. Last year, NDSU had the fan advantage – both in and out of the stadium.
“Now we have a bit of a track record. They’ve seen us in action,” said Sherri Schmidt, NDSU’s associate executive director for the Alumni Association. “That’s my number one challenge.”
Schmidt flew to the area last week and met with various people in case the Bison did make it again. This year, she said the local convention and visitors bureau is involved.
NDSU will hold its Friday pep fest at the Plano Centre. It’s the biggest space available in the entire Dallas area, Schmidt said, and she’s wondering if that’s even big enough.
The pep fest last year was held at a Marriott hotel in Plano, which ran out of alcohol with an overflow crowd.
“We have to convince all the establishments to be prepared with food and beverage,” Schmidt said.
She said the Plano Centre also has outdoor space if needed. The NDSU event is competing with the Cotton Bowl, professional games and concerts for meeting space. The Plano Centre website
says it can handle up to 5,000.
“We’ll work with it,” Schmidt said. “We were considering a big outdoor space, but the weather is too iffy.”
NDSU has come a long way in its fan base traveling to championship football games. Schmidt was with the school when it played in the Division II title game in Florence, Ala., where she figured the Bison attendance was somewhere around 1,000.
“This has absolutely blown me away,” she said. “It’s exciting and it’s so energizing to watch our fans everywhere.”
Schmidt said some major schools in bowl games limit the number of people allowed at a night-before event because of the sheer numbers. She said NDSU isn’t at that point yet.
“I still want to make it everyone welcome, please come,” she said. “We’ll tell them a guess with the numbers and hope we’re right.”
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