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NCAA says Bison championship game sold out

FARGO - If you haven't purchased your tickets for the Bison national championship football game on Jan. 7, you'll likely have to watch it on TV or shell out big bucks to get inside.

The game between North Dakota State and Sam Houston State at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, is sold out, according to the NCAA website.

Both schools are in the championship game for the first time. Sam Houston State is less than 200 miles south of Frisco, and the buzz over NDSU's playoff run has Bison fans geared up to follow the team south.

Both schools have asked for extra tickets beyond their allotment of 4,000, but the pickings are slim. Fans bought all tickets available directly through the NCAA by Monday.

The NCAA is trying to find some extra seating in the stadium that holds 20,086 for football, but those seats are not likely to number in the thousands.

Gene Taylor, NDSU's athletic director, said Monday that the Bison could sell 10,000 tickets if they had them.

He said he spoke with the NCAA on Monday and requested more tickets.

But he's not alone.

"There is a great demand, not only for North Dakota State, but also Sam Houston State," said J.D. Hamilton, media coordinator for the Division I football championship.

Hamilton said the NCAA is attempting to free up a few hundred extra tickets within the stadium to allocate back to both schools.

"We are trying to adjust moving parts within the stadium to allocate more tickets to each institution," Hamilton said. "There is a great demand in the local market as well, so we are trying to accommodate all three groups."

One example of trying to free up tickets, Hamilton said, is moving the bands for both schools to an area with temporary seating. That could potentially open up 700 more seats.

Taylor said NDSU would continue to process pre-order ticket requests through noon Thursday. The tickets will be assigned to fans based on a points system. Those who have given money to NDSU or been longtime season-ticket holders will have higher priority.

"We'll see where we are on Thursday and what becomes available, but there will be people who requested tickets through us that won't get them, unfortunately," Taylor said.

Tickets are also available if you're willing to pay a premium on brokerage websites like StubHub. As of Monday night, prices ranged between $125 and $799 per ticket on StubHub.

The NCAA's Hamilton said Monday he was "shocked" at the level of interest shown for this game, adding that as of last Thursday - before the two teams were determined - there were thousands of tickets available.

"The demand is up," he said. "It's good for the championship, maybe not for the fans, unfortunately."

North Dakota State (13-1) has won three consecutive home playoff games with crowds exceeding 18,000 at each in the Fargodome.

Sam Houston State (14-0) is in Huntsville, between Dallas and Houston. They, too, have won three home playoff games, with attendance averaging 9,868, including 12,367 for Friday's semifinal victory against Montana.

This is the second year in a row the event has been hosted at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. The attendance for last season's championship game was 13,027, as Eastern Washington defeated Delaware. The championship game record is 32,106 fans in 1995, when Montana defeated Marshall at Marshall University Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia.

Tod Ganje, manager of Travel Incorporated in Fargo, said Monday his company has filled two charter flights to Frisco.

"We're showing those two flights as sold out as of now and we have no plans of adding a third at this point," Ganje said. "We've also been taking general inquiry calls and have helped people with tickets book separate flights and hotels near Frisco."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513 and Forum sports copy editor Tom Mix at (701) 451-5750