Entz throws a strike at Target Field, hopes for more Bison success there in August
MINNEAPOLIS -- Matt Entz, his family and the rest of the North Dakota State entourage sat in Section 109 at Target Field on Sunday, April 28, perhaps 20 rows above the Minnesota Twins' dugout on the first-base side.
"Right down there is where a goal post will be," Entz said, pointing toward the field in front of the dugout. "The third-base line is right about where the visitor sideline will be and we'll be out there, in the outfield."
Entz is the first-year NDSU football coach and he was in Minneapolis for other, more immediate business Sunday. But his mind, like many others connected to the program, is already on Aug. 31 when the Bison will play Butler in a non-conference game at Target Field.
"If we could get 40,000 Bison fans here packing this place, that would be something special," Entz said.
That would be a much larger crowd than saw the Twins host the Baltimore Orioles on a cloudy, cool spring day. It also would mean the Bison have to sell plenty more tickets. Twins president Dave St. Peter said about 28,000 tickets have been sold for the game so far.
"It hasn't moved much since they first went on sale and we had the initial rush, but we expect it will pick up as the game gets closer," St. Peter said. "NDSU believes they are going to sell it out and as passionate as their fans are, that might happen."
St. Peter said the stadium would be full with 39,000 fans and any tickets sold over 35,000 would have an obstructed view.
St. Thomas and St. John's attracted an announced crowd of 37,355 when the two Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams played at Target Field in 2017.
Entz threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game, capping a short program honoring the Bison. A video honoring the Football Championship Subdivision team that's won seven of the past eight national titles played on the massive video board over left field, complete with highlights of NDSU's win over Eastern Washington in January's title game.
Entz, wearing a Twins jersey bearing his name, waved to the crowd as he strode to the mound and delivered a high strike to the crowd's delight. About 40 Bison players, plus some assistant coaches, NDSU staff and Entz's wife and two children stood near the backstop behind the plate.
It was the third time a Bison head coach has thrown out the first pitch at Twins game.
"All I heard all week was how I had to throw a better pitch than Coach Hedberg did last time," Entz said, referring to assistant coach Randy Hedberg. "I got a text last night from him saying I had to deliver a good pitch. I don't know if he was trying to get in my head or what."
After the Bison were escorted off the field, Entz shot a video interview with the Twins that will be used as a promotion to sell tickets for the August game. NDSU has a huge alumni base in the Twin Cities area.
Entz also took a quick view of the visitors' locker room, but said he and the Bison coaching staff will return June 4 when the Twins are out of town to get the full facilities tour.
"We'll look at everything then. Where the coaches are going to be, where we're going to enter the field, our locker room. Everything as it relates to us and the game. We are trying to minimize as much of the unknown as possible," Entz said.