FRISCO, Texas -- Frisco will see huge crowds roll in after the New Year, as the NCAA announced that Pizza Hut Park is sold out for the FCS national championship game.
The NCAA expects a capacity crowd of 20,086 for the title game between Sam Houston State and North Dakota State at FC Dallas' home stadium, NCAA media coordinator J.D. Hamilton said.
The estimated crowd includes the addition of bleachers on the stadium's stage area to house the bands and spirit squads from both schools, opening up regular stadium seating for both schools to sell as a part of their allotment.
Standing-room only tickets will become available on the NCAA's website at 10 a.m. Jan. 3. Those tickets will allow spectators to view the game from anywhere on the concourse at Pizza Hut Park.
This is the first FCS football championship to sell out since 2007, when Appalachian State beat Joe Flacco and Delaware 49-21 at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga Tenn. -- the same it beat Michigan early in the season.
The FCS championship game is in its second year at Pizza Hut Park, which hosted Eastern Washington’s 20-19 win over Delaware last year in front of 13,027.
This year’s championship will not be as much of a home game for Sam Houston State as most would expect. Both schools have sold their allotment of 4,000 tickets and have requested more. North Dakota State, surprisingly, has struggled to accommodate everyone who wished to travel to Frisco.
“It’s a real challenge right now,” North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said. “Our athletic director is really struggling. We could have easily sold between 10 and 15,000. Our fan base is very loyal and we sell out all our games. It’s an opportunity for them to come from North Dakota to Dallas in the wintertime and they are going to jump on that.”
Sam Houston State’s proximity to the championship game will allow the team to get in an extra day of practice at home in Huntsville.
“What’s great for us is we can take a bus ride up here,” Bearkats coach Willie Fritz said. “We’re going to get up here Wednesday evening and we have a lot of kids from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so there are a lot of them that are excited playing a home game for them.”
Sam Houston State and North Dakota State entered the 2011 playoffs seeded No. 1 and 2, respectively. The Bearkats look to complete an undefeated 15-0 season with a win in the school’s first title game appearance. North Dakota State now has eight championship appearances, with seven coming in Division II.
Both coaches agreed that fans are in for a treat of championship football. Since 2006, North Dakota State has a 5-3 record against FBS schools and Sam Houston State notched an FBS win against New Mexico this season.
“FCS football is a lot better than what a lot of people think,” Bohl said. “It was not a fluke that we defeated the University of Minnesota the last two years and I know Sam Houston has played some other FBS teams. I think the people here have put together a great game plan and you have two really good programs. As a result, this is going to be a really electric atmosphere.”