Getting into the so-called business of estimating crowds is a risky thing because, well, estimates are an educated guess – at best. Go back to the 1970s and 1980s days of Dacotah Field when there were no gate counters and all you had were round numbers that were probably nowhere near what the attendance actually was. But when it comes to estimating the number of NDSU fans at the six FCS national title games in the last seven years, at least there’s a firm total crowd number to at least gauge some sort of accuracy. The attendance in those years was:
From there, Forum Communications reporters every year in the press box looked around and estimated a percentage wearing green and yellow, collaborated and came up with a number. Looking back at our stories in the six years, we determined the following NDSU estimates:
Obviously, this year was more like the first year NDSU made the trek to Frisco. A lack-of-ticket scare and generally not knowing the lay of the land in an FCS title game probably kept a bunch of people away for the 2011 title game. Word of mouth of the fantastic experience after that event spread fast, meaning just get down there and you’ll find a ticket. The peak was 2013 when it was generally presumed it would have taken a hurricane to keep that Bison team out of a return trip to Frisco. That was the year Bison fans bought an abnormally high number of tickets when they went on sale before the season. It also helped that the opponent, Towson (Md.), brought the fewest number of fans to Frisco in any of the six title games.
James Madison was no Towson, and the Dukes brought a good share this year. And combined with a stadium renovation that made it questionable how many fewer seats there were going to be, NDSU had its lowest estimated turnouts since the first year.
Atmosphere-wise, however, it seemed the same. Every year has been a crazy Fargo-based party.