Grand Forks, North Dakota is the home of the University of North Dakota. The UND Fighting Hawks participate in 17 varsity sports including football, men’s hockey, and volleyball. The Fighting Hawks football team calls Alerus Center its home, but the stadium also hosts the school’s basketball team, as well as concerts and other events.
The indoor stadium opened in 2001 and can seat 21,000 people, although football games have a max capacity of 12,000. Before scoring touchdowns at Alerus Center, the Fighting Hawks played at Memorial Stadium from 1927 until 2000. Since 2015, the school’s mascot has been the Fighting Hawk, who can be seen at the football games in his hawk costume.
The football team is part of the FCS subdivision of the NCAA’s Division 1. After being members of the Big Sky Conference from 2012 to 2017, the Fighting Hawks announced their departure and their subsequent move to the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020 — during the transition, the team played as an independent. The University of North Dakota is a rising football team in the midwest, being ranked tenth in the FCS at the beginning of the 2017 season after becoming the Big Sky Conference champions the year before.
Apart from football, the men’s ice hockey team is an extremely successful sports program at the school. The Fighting Hawks ice hockey team has brought more than a handful of national championships back to Grand Forks. Whether it’s football, hockey, or another sport, the Fighting Hawks are a formidable midwest school.
The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks are very generous to their fanbase and typically only charge around $25 per ticket. Tickets in more premium sections may cost more, as well as tickets purchased from third-party vendors. Tickets for the hockey team hover around $40. Tickets are also available for the volleyball and basketball teams.
Alerus Center is less than a mile south of campus and it is off I-29, which runs north and south. Running east to west is U.S. Route 2, and it’s often the best route for travelers driving from Minnesota or the western part of North Dakota. Fargo is roughly an hour south of Grand Forks, and Minneapolis, Minnesota is a little over four hours southeast.
There is no available RV parking in any of the stadium lots, so fans may want to drive a tow vehicle or small campervan to the stadium instead. Parking is very affordable, and single-game tailgate parking is often about $5 per parking space. There are also reserved season parking passes that cost $50, but they sell out fast. Tailgate Village is an open area welcome to all where you can find local food vendors, music, and Fighting Hawks-branded apparel.
Shuttles are only provided to UND students, but the parking lots are relatively close to the stadium. However, you can use the Cities Area Transit (CAT) to get around Grand Forks. The CAT offers many routes, so it should be no problem to get to and from the stadium from almost any location within the city.
Due to a lack of RV parking spaces, there is no onsite camping available at the University of North Dakota. But not to worry, there are North Dakota RV parks and campgrounds in the area that can accommodate you and your family for the night.
Need somewhere to stay? Well, travelers can explore several campgrounds near UND, including Grand Forks Camgpround-RV Park that sits within five miles of campus. The outdoor-friendly community welcomes campers to stay in any of the nearby Grand Forks RV campgrounds.
Red River State Recreation Area, which is across the border in Minnesota, offers full hookup campsites and some amazing outdoor activities. Better yet, it’s semi-remote but still close enough to the city that you can shop or eat out, and the campground is less than five miles from the stadium.
If you’re attending the game with children, you can bring a stroller, which, unlike most stadiums, is allowed inside. If you plan on walking around the tailgate area and being active, bring a comfortable pair of shoes. Inside the stadium, guests can ride the elevator to access your section if needed.
Remember to pack depending on the time of year you’re attending the game. By the time football season begins in Grand Forks, the weather has already begun to cool, so pack relaxed, breathable clothing and maybe one or two warmer pieces such as a cardigan or hoodie. Pack very warm clothing if you attend a game at the end of the season, especially for a tailgate event. Don’t forget to bring your green and white Fighting Hawks apparel, but note that some games are held within indoor facilities.
If you do tailgate at the single-game tailgating lot, bring some essentials. You’ may want to pack less gear since your RV won’t be at the lot, but you can still bring a small grill, a couple of chairs, a speaker, and maybe a fold-out table. If you don’t host your own tailgate, you can still bring those items and use them at your campground.
The freezing temperatures in Grand Forks are no joke, so you’ll want to be prepared for chilling temperatures. Thankfully, Alerus Center is an indoor venue, but bundle up tight if you’re planning on tailgating in the parking lot. Also, keep an eye on the young ones and make sure they don’t get close to the fire or wander off.
North Dakota has interesting cuisine due to influences from German, Scandinavian, and Russian immigrants. There are many dishes to try, but if you want to wow your local guests, you could make knoephla, which is a traditional German soup made with potatoes and flour dumplings. Consider adding some fun green and white cookies, eggs, or other treats to your University of North Dakota smorgasbord.
Grand Forks is not a big city, but there is still good food to be found. Some of the best-rated restaurants in the area serve hamburgers, steaks, pizza, and other traditional American staples. Walleye fish is a very popular food in the area that you may want to try while in North Dakota.
Merchandise is available for purchase at the Tailgate Village, but Fighting Hawks fans can also buy apparel inside the stadium. There are concession stands inside the stadium as well if you’re feeling a bit peckish. Concession stands do vary somewhat by section, so walk around until you find the snack that calls your name. There are multiple ATMs inside the stadium, which you may need because cards are not accepted everywhere at Alerus Center.
Make sure you have everything you need for the game before entering the stadium. If you leave, you will not be allowed to come back inside the Alerus Center. Large bags are not allowed inside the stadium, and neither are cameras, drones, weapons, laser pointer, or noisemaking devices.
Starting in November, weather in Grand Forks often becomes incredibly cold. The average low temperature in December is typically under 10 degrees. If the frostbite-inducing cold wasn’t enough, the average yearly snowfall is 42 inches. Monitor road conditions before you leave and along your route to the University of North Dakota.
The only first aid room is located in section 209 of the northeast concourse. Call 911 or ask for help immediately if you are severely hurt or experiencing a medical emergency. There is a hospital less than a mile away if you need help, and multiple pharmacies are within five miles in case your first-aid supplies are low.