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Cali Owings, Published September 06 2013

Early bird gets the Bison football ticket

FARGO – North Dakota State University students sacrificed sleep in order to guarantee their spot at Saturday’s home football opener against Ferris State.

Most set their alarms for the not-so-collegian-friendly hour of 7:55 a.m. so they can go online to reserve a free student ticket when they are released at 8 a.m. every Monday before home games.

If they hit snooze, they jeopardize their chances of receiving one of the 3,900 student section tickets.

About 850 students who tried to reserve a ticket this week are on a waiting list, said Josh Hemingway, director of ticket, event and facility operations for NDSU Athletics. If a student decides not use a reserved ticket, it could become available for one of the students on the waitlist, but it’s unlikely.

“Realistically, most students who have it reserved don’t release or give it back,” Hemingway said.

But those who make Bison football a priority said they’ve had few – if any – close calls.

Kaitlin Grove, an NDSU junior from Moorhead, said she’s always been able to secure a ticket.

“I’ve been able to get them every single time,” Grove said. She has attended all but two home games since she started two seasons ago. She set her alarm for 7:55 Monday morning and got her ticket at 8 a.m.

Her boyfriend tried a little later and it took him a half hour of trying to confirm his ticket, Grove said.

A winning football program means it’s more difficult to secure student tickets than it was a few years ago.

“During my freshman year, we were pretty bad,” said Ryan Siemieniewski, a fifth-year student. “Everyone would leave at halftime. It was a lot easier to get tickets.”

He said he grew up going to games with his older brother so the success of the team is irrelevant.

When the team wins back-to-back national titles, it’s easier to fill the stands.

Overall attendance has doubled for Bison football since 2009 when 82,500 people attended all games. The number of attendees grew to 166,600 last season.

Even single-game tickets sold to the general public this season are sold out, Hemingway said.

Siemieniewski said the football program has “united the whole state.”

NDSU’s newest students are excited about the school’s burgeoning football culture.

First-year students Taylor McDonald and Courtney Pasiowitz stopped by the Memorial Union bookstore Friday afternoon to pick up new green and gold gear.

While their instructors didn’t reduce their workload for the weekend, “a lot of them told us to be at the game,” McDonald said.

Both students said they’ll adjust their routine to get tickets when they become available on Monday mornings.

“I don’t want to miss a game,” McDonald said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599