Craig Bohl and his Bison football team are currently ranked sixth in the FCS Coaches Poll for their performance on the field.  The Bison fans also have another ranking to be proud of.  The football attendance average after two games is 17,682, ranking NDSU eleventh in the FCS.  The Bison finished 10th in attendance last year with an average gate of 15,994. 

There are many factors helping the Bison at the turnstiles.   Interest going into the season was high due to the first-ever FCS playoff appearance that eventually saw the Bison advance to the national quarterfinals. 

The collegiate atmosphere at the Fargodome has proved to be a big draw for the Bison faithful and casual fans alike.  On game day, tailgating sets the tone outside.  If the smell of grills were not enough, tailgating offers something for every sense.  A stroll through the west lot of the Fargodome will take you on a green and gold tour of custom Bison buses and tents and throngs of Bison fans grilling, eating, socializing and reveling in Bison spirit.   A kids area, lawn games like baggo, ladder ball and giant Jenga give tailgating a family reunion feel.

Once inside the doors, the sensory experience continues.   The cinnamon almonds provide the first impression for a nice selection of food at the concession stands. In addition to standard concession fair, Subway, Famous Dave’s barbeque, Taco Dogs, Dippin’ Dots and Domino’s pizza provide options for the hungriest football fans. 

The show on the field starts one half hour prior to kickoff.  The Gold Star Marching Band pre-game show displays the pageantry, tradition and music that college football fans expect. Then it is lights out – literally.  The stadium goes dark and the four video boards that frame the field show a minute long video featuring a herd of Bison making its way through towns across the region.  The video then transitions to a live shot of “the Herd” making their way from the locker room to the field.  The team is met with a loud ovation and the crack of fireworks as they run out of the giant inflatable helmet.  The student athletes who wear the green and gold take over from there.  They don’t make money for their talent and performance, but they give 110 percent in exchange for cheers, support and admiration from their loyal fans.

With a remaining home schedule that features Missouri Valley Football Conference foes Illinois State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State at the Fargodome, it is very likely that there will be many more fans that declare “I’m There!” as the advertising theme suggest.

Due to the high ticket demand, fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance.   Tickets can be purchase by calling the ticket office at (888)231-NDSU, purchasing online at or at the Bison Sports Arena Ticket office Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

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Hard to believe

As Saturday’s 6 p.m. kickoff with Lafayette College approaches quickly, I realized the start of my eighth year as the football contact, 22nd at North Dakota State University and 30th in the sports information field. It makes me reflect a little, “having a flashback as I like to call it”.

It’s certainly a privilege to work with the quality of coaches and most of all the student-athletes here at NDSU on a daily basis. I can say the young men and women I work with are outstanding and they allow me to keep my youth — as catcher Jenina Ortega says, “Schwartzy have you Turn(ed) Your Swag On”.

Our media relations staff of Glenda Klein, Ryan Perreault, Jenny Beam and Kasey Byers have been busy around the clock in most cases. Our gang of five goes full blast on many fronts from August to the end of May. These people mean a great deal to me.

A shout out to my wife, Cindy, who raised our children, Chris and Lainey, while I was covering the athletic endeavors of the Bison on many fronts. She and the kids have done a great job of adjusting to the late nights, the weekends and the travel.

Technology has changed this job dramatically. When I started back 30 years ago, we had no internet, email was just starting and yes, I was using a “typewriter”. What in the world is a FTP, SFTP, HD or Twitter. I’m just a caveman, I don’t understand all these new ways.

Technology allows us to do more things, more quickly … but I am weighing the more efficiently phrase. We need more people, probably younger people to help with the new media — so we can keep doing our jobs as sports information professionals. It takes time to put together releases, bios, statistics, etc…

For some reason I like “Twitter” where everyone can be a Seinfeld. It’s probably because I can tweet quickly and be done with it. Tweeting on a Droid has been an experience.

As I close this Andy Rooney/60 Minutes monologue, don’t look for tweets or an entry on a blog during a home game, I will be a little tied up when the Bison take the field.

Oh yeah, this is Jeff Schwartz (@WJeffSchwartz). Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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NDSU Announces Gift of $2 Million From Stop-N-Go

Stop-N-Go owners Sheila Carney and Henry Knoll announced a gift of $2 million to North Dakota State University and the athletic department’s Building the Competitive Edge $32 million campaign. The gift will go toward the naming of the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility.

NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani, along with Development Foundation Associate Executive Director Jason Wohlman, and Director of Athletics Gene Taylor, accepted the generous gift.

Mr. Ellig passed away last year. An avid philanthropist and sports enthusiast, his presence is living on throughout the region, Fargo-Moorhead community and North Dakota State University. The University has the Ellig Sports Complex which includes the outdoor track and field facility, and soccer and softball fields.

Bresciani said NDSU commands a powerful niche as a student focused, land grant research university, where athletics plays an important role.  “The generosity of friends like Stop-N-Go is critical to our ability to continue to serve our students and our state,” he said.  “I’ve witnessed a remarkable level of commitment and enthusiasm, and on behalf of our student-athletes and the entire university, I want to thank these donors. ”

The 78,000-square foot indoor track and field facility, which seats 1,000, includes a 200-meter, eight-lane track with 42-inch wide lanes with additional practice lanes on the straightaway. There are also multiple long jump, triple jump and pole vault runways, along with a shot put and weight throw sector on the infield.

Taylor said, “We’re very pleased with the generosity from Shelly Ellig. We’re excited to have his name again associated with an outstanding athletic facility here at NDSU. It’s very fitting to have this facility named after Shelly based on our long-term relationship with Shelly and Stop-N-Go.”

The Building the Competitive Edge Campaign will provide a dramatic extension and renovation of the Bison Sports Arena that will transform the facility and the surrounding area, including the track and field venue, into a true Division I athletic complex reflecting the new NDSU. Additionally, it will serve as the “front door” venue welcoming student-athletes and campus guests with the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame, Hall of Champions and various fan services and facilities.

A two-court basketball practice facility will be added to the southwest corner of the existing structure. The west-side addition will house human performance facilities, including strength training, sports medicine and rehabilitation areas. The renovated BSA also will have an academic center for student-athletes.

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