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Bison football ticket sales skyrocket

FARGO -- The wave of Bison football is turning into a ticket tsunami.

North Dakota State football not only passed the 10,000 season-ticket mark for the first time in school history, but the school is also threatening to top 12,000.

It's to the point where the athletic department is considering capping them.

There were 11,972 allotted season tickets as of Wednesday, although ticket manager Josh Hemingway said that number could fluctuate before the season begins.

The spike, of course, comes on the heels of a NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title.

"That is definitely the cure-all for a boost in sales," Hemingway said.

It also virtually assures that all six home games this fall will be sellouts.

The previous high for season tickets was 9,617 last year. If the current number holds, that would mean a 24 percent increase -- despite a hike in prices for the first time in several years.

"I think the energy around the program currently is more than expected," said NDSU senior associate athletic director Pat Simmers, who is the executive director of Team Makers booster club. "I look at the growth of the university, the growth of our community and the transition to Division I."

The popularity of tailgating is also a factor, Simmers said.

Hemingway said he's anticipating the final number between 11,500 and 12,000. The ticket office is still going through requests. If, for instance, a person does not get the kind of seats they wanted, they may choose to decline.

Those unallocated season tickets will go on sale July 1. Single-game tickets will be available Aug. 1 and there may not be many left. If the final season tickets are the low estimate of 11,500, there would be only 3,200 remaining seats taking into account 4,000 allocated student tickets in the 18,700-seat Fargodome.

"Then we're really only looking at standing room only on game week or game day," Simmers said.

If NDSU does need to cap season tickets, it could bring the athletic department's priority points system back into play. It came under scrutiny during the national title game in Frisco, Texas, when the school was overwhelmed with ticket requests.

Simmers said there will be no changes to the system, which he calls a "savior for treating people fairly."

It rewards donors who have given the most and for the longest period of time.

"The biggest adjustment has been our communication with alumni," Simmers said. "It was a two-year process to set the program up and it's not going to see any more pressure than it did in January."

Simmers says the number he's been hearing for capping season tickets is 12,500. Hemingway said the department is evaluating areas like player tickets, staff tickets and visitor tickets.

"It's been great, everyone says the job is easy but I'm not sure that's the case," Simmers said. "It's changed. You go from sales to customer service."