Frisco Enterprise > News
Football championship attendees make themselves at home
North Dakota State Bison fans cook food during tailgating festivities prior to the start of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game. Photo by Monica Garza.
Fans of North Dakota State Bison and Sam Houston State Bearkats may have come to Frisco for a championship game -- and set a record attendance in the process -- but they arrived to much more.
Prior to the noon start of Saturday's NCAA Division I Football Championship Game, which the Bison won 39-13, fans took part in several free activities at Tailgate Town, a pre-game celebration for both sides.
Some of the more popular activities included a zip line, mechanical bull and youth football competitions. Live music was also provided at Tailgate Town, which lasted from 9 a.m. until the start of the game.
In addition to Tailgate Town, fans also took part in tailgating of their own, cooking pre-game meals and enjoying music and television from the back of pick-up trucks.
Tori Aubele, a Sam Houston State junior from Frisco, helped show her friends around town prior to the game.
"A big group of us got there early for tailgating, and it was really fun to see all of the Sam Houston fans in my home town," she said. "My favorite part of tailgating was just being together and showing our school spirit."
Devon Craft, a Sam Houston State senior, was part of the group that went to the game with Aubele and said the city was welcoming of fans.
"We went to different places in Frisco Square where there were a lot of Bearkats getting hyped up for the big game," she said.
Attendance easily broke the FC Dallas Stadium record for a football game, with 21,411 fans packing the stadium, beating last year's attendance -- the previous record -- of 20,586.
A large portion of those fans traveled 23 hours or more from North Dakota State. It's estimated more than 65 percent of the crowd bought tickets in support of the Bison.
Jim Miller, president and CEO of North Dakota State Alumni Association and Development Foundation, said the university's alumni base actually has a strong presence in Texas.
"We have a lot of alumni that live in the area that have moved and migrated to Texas, so there's a lot of reasons why people would come down in addition to the game," he said. "There's plenty of people who came down to do plenty of tourist-style things as well."
While Bearkat fans weren't happy to see their team lose to the Bison in the title game for the second consecutive year, one thing they did enjoy was the game's fan-friendly environment.
"The atmosphere was great with so much team spirit on each side," said Kaylee Brazeel, a Sam Houston State senior. "The only thing that I didn't like was that there were so many more North Dakota State fans than Sam Houston State fans -- the game was in Texas so you would have thought that there would be more SHSU fans."
Despite the discrepancy in turnouts for the two schools, Brazeel said she and her friends had a good time supporting their school.
"Even though we didn't win, I had a great time supporting our team and cheering them on with great friends," she said. "I'm so proud of our football team for making it to the championship two years in a row."