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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 21 2012

Bison pep fest gets a Texas-sized boost in venue

FARGO – The North Dakota State Frisco Football Frenzy already outgrew the Plano Centre before its fans even got to Texas. The Friday pep fest on Jan. 4 was changed to a bigger venue.

It will now be an outdoor event at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.

NDSU will face Sam Houston State Jan. 5 for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title. Parking and fan space should not be an issue.

“Come one, come all,” said Sherri Schmidt, associate executive director of the NDSU Alumni Association, which puts on the event. “It’s a good place to be and the weather will be awesome.”

The latter statement, of course, was more of a hope. But NDSU quickly outgrew a Marriott hotel ballroom in Plano last year, and the Plano Centre has a capacity of 5,000. After NDSU won its FCS semifinal game over Georgia Southern, indicators such as airlines and ticket sales had NDSU officials believing 5,000 would not suffice.

Schmidt said estimates now for the Friday event are around 6,000 to 8,000. She said the Plano Centre was getting nervous with the over-5,000 estimate and was fine with the switch.

Dr. Pepper Ballpark is similar in size to Fargo’s Newman Outdoor Field. It is the home of the Frisco RoughRiders, a Class AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers that plays in the Texas League.

“It’s probably the most beautiful minor league ballpark in the country,” said Scott Sonju, the president and general manager of the RoughRiders. “It will be an outstanding backdrop for this event. We have great things planned.”

The facility, which opened in 2003 at a cost of $22.7 million and has a seating capacity of 10,600, is not new to group outings, although this is pushing the outer edge of what could be considered a group.

“We do have private events quite regularly,” Sonju said. “This is a fun one. We’re looking forward to some Texas hospitality to Bison fans and alums.”

Parking will be free, but tickets will be required for entrance, although each $10 ticket comes with two vouchers for either a food or beverage item. The purpose of selling tickets, Schmidt and Sonju both said, is more for control than anything else.

As for last year’s problem of the Friday event running out of alcohol, Sonju said that won’t be problem. Also consider this is a minor league baseball group running the event.

“From what I understand from last year’s experience, that is a legitimate question,” Sonju said. “I’ve had multiple meetings with our food service.”

In case of rain, the event could be delayed. There are also covered concourses.

Schmidt figures most NDSU fans will already have the necessary clothing because of Saturday morning tailgating at FC Dallas Stadium.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia