Big bandwagon: Strong NDSU contingent expected in TexasThe 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 during last year’s Football Championship Subdivision title game — also is serving as a word of warning. Be prepared this year.
By: JEFF KOLPACK, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — 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 during last year’s Football Championship Subdivision title game — also is serving as a word of warning. Be prepared this year.
NDSU’s FCS semifinal victory over Georgia Southern on Friday night qualified Bison fans to return to the scene of a Texas-sized party. NDSU, the defending national champion, plays for a repeat national title Jan. 5 against Sam Houston State at FC Dallas Stadium, about 20 miles north of Dallas. Last year, NDSU had the fan advantage — both in and out of the stadium, when the Bison beat Sam Houston State.
“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 No. 1 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, Jan. 4, 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 people.
“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 with 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 people.
“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.”