Keeping the Fans in the Stands

With the upcoming North Dakota State football season ready to kick into high gear this weekend, there is one problem that still needs addressing.

NDSU students leaving games early.

“It is a big-time commitment (for the students), we get that,” said Justin Swanson, the Assistant Director of Athletics for Fan Engagement and Marketing. “

Despite the time commitment, it is a fact that NDSU students turn out in force for football games.

Student tickets went on sale this morning for the opening game against Mississippi Valley State. It is expected that those tickets would be claimed rather quickly.

“Look at the first three games off the bat … they are claimed right away.”

However, after the first three games, which are usually scheduled as two non-conference games followed by homecoming, attendance drops slightly.

“Traditionally, the second half of the season, as you get closer to midterms, deeper into the semester, the attendance drops. We might not have 4,000 students, but 3,000,” Swanson said.

That’s still a lot of students, considering the Fargodome seats around 18,000.

The final three home games are always in the meat of the Missouri Valley conference schedule. The Valley has been quite competitive in recent years and is lining up to be so again this year. That competitiveness is usually a good thing when it comes to keeping students in their seats.

Talking about keeping fans in their seats until the clock reads 0:00, Swanson believes a lot of it has to do with the product on the field. “I think it is a great football team and a competitive Missouri Valley schedule.”

“The more competitive the game, the longer they stay.”

Competitiveness is something that has become more prevalent in the past year. During the run of five straight national championships, NDSU outscored opponents 1,153-412 in the regular season alone. It is understandable that some would leave early.

“If they are sitting there and we are up four or five touchdowns in the second half, a lot of times this one is in the books. They are going to beat traffic, go to the dining hall, and maybe get a head start on studying,” Swanson said.

But last year, complacency seemingly set in. Despite the first two overtime games in Fargodome history, fans left at halftime of the Dakota Marker game. While NDSU led 10-3 At the half, South Dakota State should have scored on both of its two drives to lead at halftime.

There are some changes coming to game day to help combat that.

“We have some student giveaway plans this year, along with the Bison Rewards app,” Swanson said.

The Bison Rewards app will return for a second year. Last year was a success for the app, which got students to check-in to sporting events to gain points for free Bison gear.

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