Dear TCF Bank Stadium Student Section: It’s Your Turn to Change Your Best.

Photo: @NadineBabu - Twitter

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I drove onto the TCF Bank Stadium grounds on Saturday morning a little bit late. Was that the plan when the day started? No, but I used it as an excuse, with myself, to get a feel for the atmosphere as tailgate parties were getting into full-drink. It was fun. The excitement was palpable and their were noticeably more people, walking around the stadium and through the parking lots, than there had been for any of the previous home games.

A lot of those tailgaters weren’t ready for the crowds, that would be migrating with them into TCF Bank Stadium around kickoff time though, because it was hard to tell whether we were looking at a line to get into The Bank… or if everyone lined up was trying to get through airport security during construction season…

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I believe all of those people found their way in, but I’m not sure how many of them found their way to the student section…

I was keeping my eyes on this throughout the 1st half (because I saw the same thing vs Nebraska) and couldn’t help but notice, again, that the upper bowl in the student section was the emptiest section in the stadium (closed end zone side). And, because the student section is bleacher seating (and not the maroon — or some gold — chair seating that fills the stadium from end zone to end zone), the no-shows stick out way harder there, than anywhere else. Again, this isn’t a one-time ordeal. I’ve been to every home game this year and the student section tends to be the most difficult to attract asses into seats. But, winning cures attendance problems… or so I’ve been writing for awhile now

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So, I tweeted this out last night, right as I was about to put head onto pillow, and it ended up costing me an internet friend and two hours of sleep. People get very sensitive over this subject BUT, let’s be real; that hasn’t stopped me from weighing in on anything else in the past. At the end of the day, truths are truths and facts are facts… Everything else is just excuses. (Write that down)

Gopher fans can make excuses for these students all that they want to. Have at it. Most kids their age have had people protecting them and shielding them from criticism their entire lives, causing safe spaces to be instituted at every old and closed-down cigarette station across campus. 

So sure, let’s hear them:

  • This photo was taken way late when the game was already over’
  • ‘Success needs to be more sustained.’
  • ‘It was an oddly beautiful late October Saturday that people took advantage of elsewhere.’
  • ‘It was fall break.’
  • ‘Attendance is down at all sporting events.’
  • ‘The school has done a bad job of selling tickets.’
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via GIPHY

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How about some accountability? I always write and talk about how people should fan however they want. Be a fan, how you want to be a fan. Criticize how you want to criticize. Talk about what is on your mind, even if it isn’t in agreement with those around you. These are sports, we’re talking about. They are supposed to be fun and a place where we can argue freely about different opinions, because nobody will die either way (hopefully). I hate telling fans what to do and where to spend their money.

HOWEVER

I’ve also said that winning cures attendance problems, in Minnesota. Where is that fire we are so proud of? Where is that fan spirit that packed a million people into the Metrodome for the first Minnesota Timberwolves season? THE STUDENT SECTION IS THE MOST EMPTY SECTION IN THE BUILDING. WTF IS HAPPENING???

It should be the opposite of that. The students should be the first ones filling their seats. They should feel like the team needs them… that the team FEEDS off the energy created by the student section… BECAUSE THEY DO AT OTHER STADIUMS. Let’s put down the controller or mouse (I play video games too) for a few hours and take that last massive bong rip, before you leave (hell, bring a vape pen), but no matter what, make sure you get your student-ass into your student seat. The team really does need you and the stadium really does feed off of your energy and those tickets aren’t available to others. If you don’t show… nobody does.

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We want College Gameday to come to Minnesota. PJ Fleck sat on a stump and pitched our great city to Gameday yesterday, during his postgame press conference. He went on for 5 minutes, in classic PJ Fleck fashion. If Gameday sees the pictures of our student section, why would they come here?

Of course, that is just me speaking from their point of view, because I know we would show out like no other, for that type of experience. BUT, we have to get them here first. The student involvement is what makes Gameday great. Their decision makers could balk at coming because of the lack of student attendance alone.

Also, PJ Fleck is proving to be the coach that we haven’t had here in closer to 100 years, than 0. He is a coach that believes in atmosphere and the little things that make it great. A packed student section and loud home games is one of those things… probably one of the biggest, in his mind. Who do you think is pushing all of these student promotions, to get these kids in the door? Everyone is now afraid of PJ leaving; worried that he’s the next Lou Holtz…. well he will be, if we don’t prove to him, what he believed when he arrived on campus: That Minnesota is a sleeping GIANT a college football program, fan base, and university. PJ has delivered on every promise he spewed in his opening press conference. Now, it’s our turn and that includes the student section.

So, students and Gopher fans all over the state…. I ask you: Are we going to return that newly-found trust, by busting TCF Bank Stadium open at the fucking seams, vs Penn State in two weeks…? OR, are we going to leave those around the country, to wonder how many students actually attend the University of Minnesota, during the biggest Gopher sporting event held on campus in over 50 years, and a team that deserves a stadium that’s just as ? as they are.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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