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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Fargodome – North Dakota State Bison

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Fargodome 1800 N University Dr Fargo, ND 58102

Year Opened: 1992

Capacity: 19,000


Oh, Give Me a Dome…. Where the Bison Roam

Located along the state line of Minnesota and North Dakota, Fargo, ND is home to North Dakota State University (NDSU) and its Bison athletic teams. The Bison name was chosen due to the fierce and powerful nature of the animal, and the fact that the prairies of the north central portions of the USA were the home grounds for these magnificent beasts.

The football home of the Bison is the Fargodome, a 19,000-seat indoor facility located on the NDSU campus. It opened in 1992 and has seen sellout crowds ever since. The NDSU football program is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and competes at the FCS level of the NCAA’s Division I. It provides a real home field advantage for the Bison, as they have a .865 winning percentage for games in the ‘Dome.

Food & Beverage 3

The Fargodome offers a combination of national brands and generic concession stands to provide food and beverage at games. Amongst the national brands are Domino’s Pizza, Subway, Dippin’ Dots, and Cold Stone Creamery. Their prices match what you would find at their outside retail stores.

The generic concession stands are known as the Dakota Grill. They offer burgers, brats, chicken strips, popcorn, hot dogs and nachos, and Pepsi brand sodas. The prices charged are very reasonable. Concession stands at the Fargodome are staffed by volunteers from area churches and non-profits, with a percentage of the proceeds going to that non-profit. This is always an admirable policy.

Atmosphere 4

The NDSU Bison are without question the most dominant football team at the NCAA’s FCS level. Before joining the FCS, they won eight National Championships at the Division II level and never skipped a beat, winning the FCS National Championship seven times. In that period, they have won 35 Conference championships, while only having three losing seasons since 1964. Since joining the FCS, the Bison boast of a 32-2 record in the FCS playoffs.

The Bison are not afraid of playing the big boys, as they have scored victories over FBS opponents….Iowa, Iowa State, Colorado State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Minnesota. Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz is probably the most successful player to come out of the Bison program.

All this success has led to a great game day atmosphere in Fargo. It starts well before kickoff, as the parking lots around the Fargodome swell with tailgaters clad in the school colors. The Gold Star Marching Band puts on a pregame concert at the pep rally that precedes each contest. The action then moves inside the building.

The Fargodome is a long, but not necessarily high building. The stands along both sidelines and the end zones are elevated above the field, providing everyone with great sight lines. There are no beams to obstruct the view. Even the top row in the stadium is near the field. In addition to the excellent views of the field, the atmosphere is also helped by the noise level in the stadium. Part of this is due to the indoor nature of the stadium, but it is mostly due to the NDSU fan base, known collectively as the Herd.

The student section is on its feet for nearly the entire game. In case you can’t hear what happened on the field, the Fargodome boasts of an excellent video package. Each end zone has an HD video board measuring 100’ X 30’. There are banners saluting the many National Championships, but they have been forced to list multiple years per banner due to space limitations!

The NDSU Bookstore operates several team stores throughout the building, ensuring that there will be a sea of yellow and green rocking the stadium.

Neighborhood 4

The city of Fargo offers a wide variety of options as far as entertainment, restaurants, lodging, and attractions. It is a major destination for residents of both North Dakota and NW Minnesota, as it is the largest city in the region, with more than 113,000 residents.

The Fargodome is located on the campus of NDSU, next door to Newman Outdoor Field, the baseball home of the Bison. Most of the restaurants in the immediate area are of the fast-food/pizza joint variety that serves the student population. Two restaurants to check out in the Fargo area are the Fargo Brewing Company and Ale House and the Old Broadway Grill and Sports Zone. Two attractions to check out in the area are the Roger Maris Museum in the West Acres Mall and the Hjemkomst Center across the river in Moorhead, MN. It features a museum saluting the Norse heritage of the region, including a scale replica of a Viking ship.

Two recommended places to stay within walking distance of the ‘Dome are the Candlewood Suites Fargo and the Homewood Suites Fargo.

Fans 5

The Bison fan base is known for its loyalty, friendliness, and volume. NDSU games have been sellouts for years, with families handing down tickets through the generations. This is very important when your facility has a 19,000-seat capacity. NDSU fans arrive early (read Friday) to set up for massive tailgating parties to rival those in Green Bay. They are hard to miss in their yellow and green outfits with RV vehicles sporting the same colors. They display the typical Midwestern friendliness and welcome visitors to eat with them.

You will not hear a lot of trash talk in Fargo. Once inside Bison fans do get loud though. They have been measured frequently at reaching the 111-115 decibel level. The construction design of the Fargodome only amplifies that noise. One of their favorite cheers is “First down… ah, move the chains!”

Helping the fans crank up the volume is the NDSU Marching Band, known as the Gold Star Band and the team’s mascot, a bison by the name of Thundar of Norse mythology.

Fans get especially fired up for the Bison games against their main rivals… the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (located just 50 miles north of Fargo on I-29) and the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits. The team typically plays its early-round games in the FCS playoffs as well, which are raucous events. Even when the team plays away games, the Bison faithful will make the trip.

Access 3

There’s no doubt that Fargo is rather isolated, as it is located 236 miles northwest of the Twin Cities via I-94 (a 3.5-hour drive). There is also no doubt that weather can play a factor in reaching there for some late-season games. However, once you reach Fargo, the Fargodome is hard to miss. It is located just off of I-29 and is by far the biggest building on the NDSU campus.

Parking around the building is plentiful, and there are two hotels located across the street from the facility, within easy walking distance. Hector International Airport is also right across the street, with frequent flights to the Twin Cities area.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets are $65 for seats along the side of the field and $45 for end zone seats. That may sound expensive, but only 19,000 fans fit in the stadium and you will be watching one of the most dominant football programs in the NCAA FCS level. Parking at the Fargodome is only $5, and hotels in the area are less than $100 a night.

Concession prices at the Fargodome are very reasonably priced. Your trip to Fargo will not cost you a lot of buffalo bills!

Extras 5

Each year the Fargodome hosts one of the largest pancake breakfasts in the world. The Kiwanis-sponsored event draws more than 10,000 people and serves up more than 30,000 flapjacks on an annual basis.

The Fargodome is the major concert arena for the entire state of North Dakota and most of northwestern Minnesota. Artists who have performed in the arena include Taylor Swift, Prince, Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, and Celine Dion.

Fargo is subject to floods from the Red River of the North when there is a sudden winter thaw. The Fargodome serves the community both as a shelter for families evacuated from their homes, as well as a site for filling sandbags to hold the waters back.

Roger Maris was a Fargo native and came back to the town after retiring from baseball. The Roger Maris Museum is located in the West Acres Mall located just down the street from the Fargodome.

When you stop at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center upon arrival in town, make sure you get a selfie made with the woodchipper from the movie “Fargo.” Yes, the bloody foot is still protruding out of the top of it!

Final Thoughts

One of the best-kept secrets in college football is the success the NDSU Bison have had at the FCS level. The Fargodome allows you to enjoy the top-ranked play of the Bison, without having to deal with the brutal late fall and early winter weather experienced in the Northern Plains. While in town, check out the lively art scene offered by citizens of Fargo.

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