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UND looking to enhance game day experience for football fans

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Football season is around the corner, and the University of North Dakota is looking to have another great year.

But to do that, leaders within the school say that fans have to be out supporting the team.

The University of North Dakota recently formed a new committee called the Gameday Experience Committee.

Their goal is to make the atmosphere at the Alerus Center more electric for the fans.

They think that by making the fan experience more fun, the players will get even more pumped up.

Aside from helping the team, that enhanced gameday experience could also help out businesses here in Grand Forks.

The UND Fighting Hawks football team won the Big Sky conference last year, and this year they are picked as the favorites to win again.

Mark Kennedy, UND president: "I think we can make it even better than it is, and having fans actively engage in the stands helps the team and helps the whole process."

The 31 person "gameday experience" committee has three focuses, including the tailgating aspect, the in-game aspect, and the facility itself.

The Alerus Center is getting a new light and sound system installed this offseason.

The committee is also thinking of ways to help boost the fan experience.

"Whether it be the team going around more regularly, whether it be contests that you have amongst tailgaters, whether it be extending the time you are allowed to tailgate before and after. Those are all things the group is considering," says Kennedy.

Like other places in town, Wild Bill's Sports Bar runs busses to and from UND hockey games.

Erik Almquist, WIld Bill’s manager: "The atmosphere is always awesome. We couldn't be more happy with the turnout for Friday and Saturday hockey nights."

If the university succeeds in drawing more fans to football games, Almquist says Wild Bill’s would also consider cashing in with a football bus.

Almquist: "Absolutely! Wild Bill’s loves sporting events, so being able to accommodate, that would be really great for the community. It would also be great for the football team, and also for our customers to be able to continue keeping them safe."

And although it's just a thought right now, fans seem to be on board with that idea.

Doug Iverson, UND Fan: "I think a bus to the Alerus Center is a great idea. I think whoever does it will be pioneers in that aspect."

If the university's committee is successful in enhancing the gameday experience, it could make for an atmosphere in town that rivals that team down south.

Kennedy: "I'm confident we will have a better season than the Bison in football, and many other sports as well.”

So far, the University of North Dakota has already sold over one-thousand more season tickets to football games this year than they did last year.

The committee hopes that those number continue to increase as we creep closer to kickoff.