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Cali Owings, Published March 17 2014

Bison fans face hurdles in watching Thursday's NCAA tournament game

FARGO – North Dakota State University Bison fans rejoiced Sunday as the men’s basketball team earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

But now the reality of March Madness is setting in. Bison fans face a couple of hurdles trying to watch the game against Oklahoma on Thursday night in Spokane, Wash.

Those hoping to catch the game on local cable are in a pinch because Fargo provider Cable One does not carry TruTV, the network broadcasting the game. It’s available to Midcontinent subscribers in Moorhead and West Fargo and as part of satellite television packages.

“We are just as disappointed as everyone else,” said Scott Geston, Cable One general manager.

Thirty-six games will be broadcast through Friday on CBS and Turner Broadcasting channels TNT, TBS and TruTV.

Geston said the Big Dance is so big that some games are on less-popular channels like TruTV.

“It’s basically too much product for too few viewing channels,” Geston said.

He said Cable One doesn’t carry TruTV because it’s just not popular here.

Geston said Cable One is testing possible streaming avenues. If it figures something out, the company will let customers know how to watch the game later this week.

And with just four days’ notice, fans might have to cough up nearly $1,000 for a last-minute flight or make the 16-hour drive if they want to see the game in person.

While hordes of Bison football fans have made the 15-hour pilgrimage to Frisco three consecutive years, they typically have about three weeks to arrange for travel.

The Alumni Association, which helps to make travel arrangements for away games, said there are currently no group travel plans due to the short notice.

There aren’t a lot of flights to Spokane, said Robyn Strickland, a travel agent at Fargo’s Travel Travel. The best price Strickland said she could find was a $986 round-trip flight leaving today and returning Friday.

Fans might want to optimize their time in Spokane and hope the Bison advance to the next round of the tournament to play Saturday. In that case, a quick Google flights search for a Wednesday through Sunday trip shows fares ranging from $1,389 to $2,490. Many have a few stops or long layovers.

Strickland said the best flights are sold about 21 days in advance.

She said no one has reached out to her about making travel arrangements to the game.

Ambitious drivers could make it in a day – or make a pit stop about halfway through in Billings, Mont.

Fans willing to spend 24 hours on a train could reach Spokane by 1:40 a.m. Thursday and pay about $145 for a reserved coach seat on the Empire Builder.

There’s also not a lot left for hotels in the city, Strickland said.

“It’s amazing how fast it sold out out there,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599