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Official Review by Marcus Traxler, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Built in 1992, the Fargodome has been a valued part of the Fargo-Moorhead community for more than two decades. This was most notable when the dome’s floor was crowded with volunteers filling sandbags for the flood of the Red River Valley in 2009.
Aside from the occasional concert or monster truck rally, there’s one tenant that fills the dome on a regular basis: The North Dakota State University Bison football team.
With the addition of the dome, North Dakota State has become much cozier than it was at Dacotah Field, but that can only be said for the home team. The field (officially known as Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome) seats more than 19,000 and has become one of the best atmospheres in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). And the team itself is not bad, either.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There's a pretty good assortment of food options for the Fargodome, which sells Pepsi products. Dominos ($3 a slice) and Subway ($5.75 for 6-inch) are national chain options at the concession stands.
There are two sizes for Cloverdale-brand hot dogs ($2.50 and $3.75) and a pretzel goes for $3.50. The Dome also has chicken strips, cinnamon almonds and mini donuts as well.
While the green and gold colored popcorn ($3.75) is available, the rest of the fare is standard and because there's a chance you'll need them, ear plugs go for $1.
In short, the atmosphere is fantastic.
The tailgating experience at NDSU has improved in recent years and the 2011 championship run to Frisco, Texas only accelerated it. The west side of the stadium is full of tents, RVs and buses and most Bison fans are willing to share in the fun for those who are walking through.
Inside the dome, the Bison take the field to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck". The lights go off, while cell phones glow from the seats to create a pretty sweet effect. The seats are fairly steep at the top of the building, so everyone is close to the action.
As if the building wasn't loud enough, a cannon fires twice after every touchdown. Even after you know it's going off, it will startle you.
Most domes are pretty drab (there's six out of the 120 teams in FCS football) but the Fargodome is anything but.
There's quite a few restaurants near the Fargodome but they do lack originality. McDonald's and Taco Bell are close, along with Subway. If you're staying in a hotel, you'll be within walking distance of Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's, and both are pretty popular spots for before and after the game.
If you want a unique pizza experience (and one that I personally swear by), go downtown to Rhombus Guys. It's not too far from the Dome and trust me, it's worth it.
Simple tip: If you're going to the game, take a run through the tailgate lots, where I'm guessing you'll be able to make some Bison friends.
While NDSU has had the nation's top defense the last two years, Bison fans do their part. The Dome is deafening when the opponent is on offense, to a degree that will likely leave you with a headache if you are not prepared.
The fans are also smart. If it's 3rd down for the opponent, the noise is cranked up to another degree.
The Fargodome is not far from I-29 and there are two exits you can use to get to the Dome on either the north or south side of the structure at 12th Avenue North (Exit 67) or 19th Avenue North (Exit 66).
Parking is $3 at the stadium lots and there's plenty of it. Fans can also park a little further away toward campus and not have to pay. For the price and the fun with the tailgating, it is recommended that you just park near the Fargodome.
North Dakota State has built one of the very best FCS programs in the country. With a chance to win back-to-back FCS titles in 2012, the excitement around NDSU football has never been higher. Single-game tickets for the 2012 season were sold out within the first 24 hours on sale for NDSU's six home games.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference has asserted itself as one of the best in the country, so there's a good chance that you'll see a quality opponent as well.
Sideline reserved seats are $30 if you can get your hands on them and end zone seats are $20. General admission tickets, which are located on the ends of the field in the highest 10 to 15 rows, go for $18 and $10, respectively for adults and students.
If you make it to Fargo, it's hard to go away disappointed.
One point for NDSU's ability to make their dome feel like their own. The seats are red and blue but that hardly matters when there's fans in those seats. New turf replaced the artificial surface in 2012 and the gold end zones are a nice touch.
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