Bison football playoff attendance drop 'disappointing'
FARGO — It appears the two smallest crowds for North Dakota State football games this season will be the first two Division I FCS playoff games. About 2,000 tickets were still available as of Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6, for Saturday morning’s quarterfinal clash with Colgate at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The response from NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen was twofold.
“Grateful for all the fans that continue to support us in great numbers compared to other FCS schools,” he said. “Disappointed in the drop of attendance when you look at the incredible run our team has been on. We’re undefeated, 12-0 with the No. 1 seed and empty seats in the dome is disappointing.”
NDSU drew 17,007 in the 52-10 win over Montana State last weekend in a facility that carries a capacity of almost 19,000, including standing-room only tickets. The Bison drew at least 18,008 for all seven regular season games. The Bison drew 17,008 fans in last season’s quarterfinals victory against Wofford at the Fargodome.
Ironically, NDSU’s unparalleled success may be playing a role in fans being less engaged. Most of its games have essentially been over by halftime because of big leads. The rise of the greatest championship dynasty in college football history came in a large part because of the dome.
Noise levels easily topping 100 decibels were common during the run of five straight titles from 2011-15. A loud rock concert is said to carry a decibel level of around 120.
“A large portion of our success, yeah, we have great players and coaches, but we’ve had the best home-field advantage through the run,” Larsen said. “It’s no accident it’s hard for teams to come in here, and when the place is sold out, it has a huge impact on our success. To have 1,500 to 2,000 empty seats, that impacts things. You hate to take things for granted, you hear we’re going to make it to the semifinals or Frisco. But, boy oh boy, one step at a time, and that means putting our team in the best spot to be successful.”