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Published June 26 2012

Forum editorial: Two great collegiate programs

One of the more interesting statistical comparisons in Monday’s front-page Forum story about University of North Dakota ice hockey and North Dakota State University football was season ticket holders for both sports. The report by Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack and Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Schlossman took a look at the impact and popularity of the schools’ marquee sports programs. Kolpack is The Forum’s lead Bison reporter; Schlossman is the Herald’s lead UND hockey reporter.

It’s no big revelation that Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead rank one, two and three in Bison football season ticket sales. Grand Forks is not in the top five. What a surprise. Or is it?

It’s also a given that Grand Forks is No. 1 in UND hockey season ticket sales. But what’s this? Fargo is No. 2! What a surprise. Or is it?

UND fans have a football team, such as it is, and clearly their loyalties lie with the team, not with the NDSU Bison. Even as UND ice hockey is the big dog on the Grand Forks sports scene, UND football takes precedence over NDSU football, even if the national champion Bison play at a higher level.

On the other hand, there is no Division I collegiate hockey in Fargo, and likely there won’t be. But Fargo hockey fans have the best college hockey up the road in Grand Forks. They flock to that city all winter to see UND play. Fargo sports fans can boast of the twin luxuries of the best college football in the region right here in town and the best college hockey in the nation just 75 miles to the north.

Those factors determine the patterns of season ticket purchases for both schools and in both cities. Indeed, the support from Fargo for UND hockey is a significant factor in the program’s overall success, both financially and for filling the seats in the spectacular Engelstad Arena.

So, while there has always been and always will be friendly (and not-so-friendly) competition between the two schools and two cities, the winners are football fans and hockey fans. For them, it doesn’t get any better than to have a great championship football team in Fargo and a perennial national hockey power in Grand Forks.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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