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Beyond Thunderdome

The Paladins and their supporters won’t have to worry about snow and biting temperatures after they enter the Fargodome, with a constant 70-degree temperature, to play the North Dakota State University Bison on Saturday in a second-round FCS playoff game.

But they will have to be concerned about the noise in the fairly unusual indoor stadium. Few college teams play indoors and most of those who do are based in northern climes like North Dakota, said Ryan Perreault, associate director of athletic media relations.

The 19,000-seat Fargodome, which is a blessing for winter games, “probably has the best indoor atmosphere in college football,” he said.

Often called the Thunderdome by opposing teams, the cheering and noise levels have surpassed 111 decibels – and that is loud. Humans begin feeling vibrations from sound at 116 decibels and the level of noise on the front row of a rock concert is 120 decibels.

“It is very loud,” Perreault said. “The noise gets trapped in the stadium. It’s made a difference for our team” and it’s tough on other teams. No matter how they try to prepare, it’s hard to mimic that much noise.

That amount of sound rocketing around the stadium calls for major yelling from Paladin fans to outshout the competition and major concentration from the football team to shut out the noise.

“It’s just the right fit for us,” Perreault said of the stadium.

North Dakota State is absolutely fanatic for football, Perreault said.  The school holds four straight championships and an 11-0 record this year. In fact, it has won 20 straight games.

“Football is by far the most followed sport” at the school, he said.

North Dakota State’s football success began in the mid-1960s, following a mediocre program in the 1950s, Perreault said. The school moved into Division I play in 2004 and has “been successful fairly rapidly.”

While the game will be played in temperate indoor weather, getting to the stadium could be a chore. Snow and freezing fog hit Fargo earlier in the week and temperatures are expected to be about minus 17 degrees on Saturday. Greenville temperatures, on the other hand, are predicted to be in the upper 50s.

Perreault recommended that Furman fans bring heavy coats and dress in layers. They also need good shoes and heavy socks as they navigate snowdrifts and icy areas. “It’s pretty windy here,” he said.

A city of the Great Plains, Fargo is North Dakota’s largest city. Located on the banks of the north-flowing Red River, it is the county seat of Cass County. The city, founded in 1871 boasted 105,549 residents in the 201`0 U.S. Census, but Fargo is the center of a metropolitan area of about 200,000 residents in North Dakota and Minnesota. It is a center of industry and manufacturing, with a Microsoft hub of offices. The university, a land-grant school, touts strong pharmacy and engineering programs and a research and technical park. It also has a strong extension program to work with the thriving agricultural and ranching industry in the state.

While in town, visitors may want to visit the Roger Maris Museum in West Acres Mall. Maris, who played for the Cardinals and the Yankees, was raised in Fargo and played minor league ball in the region.  The museum honors baseball’s homerun king and allows fans from all over the nation to relive his life both on and off the baseball diamond. Included is a section on his legendary 61 homeruns in 1961.

Fargo also is home to the Fargo Air Museum, featuring historic aircraft; The Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm; and the Plains Art Museum, a regional fine arts facility. Bonanzaville USA, a recreated pioneer village, can be visited year-round. Fargo also boasts a theater, symphony and other cultural events.

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