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Tracy Frank, Published March 21 2009

Fans forgo work to watch Bison

Marilyn Petersen of Moorhead thought twice about showing her true colors while watching the Bison-Jayhawks tournament game Friday.

Surrounded by green- and-yellow-clad Bison fans, Petersen left her crimson and blue at home as she joined co-workers for the men’s basketball game at Sidestreet Grille and Pub in downtown Fargo.

“I didn’t dare try that. I thought I might not make it out to the parking lot,” she joked.

Petersen was the only Kansas fan in the packed pub, but that didn’t stop her from rooting against the home team. Her nephew is Cole Aldrich, Kansas Jayhawks center who scored 23 points and 13 rebounds in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Despite her allegiance, Petersen did not get any grief or glares from the 200-plus North Dakota State fans at Sidestreet.

“I think this was the most excitement Fargo has seen in a long time,” she said. “It’s good to have something to cheer about.”

Petersen, who works as a line supervisor for Alien Technology in Fargo, had the day off. Her co-workers were allowed to take an extended lunch break to watch the game.

It was not business as usual for companies throughout Fargo-Moorhead on Friday.

Several – such as Intelligent InSites, Appareo Systems, and the businesses in the North Dakota State University technology incubator – had pizza parties while they watched the game at work.

Others, like most of the staff at Jordahl Custom Homes in Fargo, took an extended lunch break to watch the game among other fans in packed bars and restaurants.

“If someone needs us, I can respond to my clients and customers on my BlackBerry,” said Dawn Cruff-Kartes, Jordahl Custom Homes vice president of sales. “Our job sites are kind of empty. Everyone in town went to find a TV.”

Shouts and cheers erupted from the crowd of 175 at Hooligan’s bar in West Fargo whenever the Bison scored.

Louder shouts and grunts accompanied each missed shot.

As the game neared an end, fans at Buffalo Wild Wings in south Fargo started to rise out of their seats at the prospect of a shot, only to sink back down when it bounced off the rim.

“We couldn’t make it to the actual game and so we decided that this environment would be the second best place,” said Ashlee Morrow, an NDSU sophomore.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526