by Tomi Thompson
Dragon Athletics gets to kick off its fall football season in a big way, hosting the first game in 29 years under the lights of MSUM.
Now, with new turf and new lights “Opening Day at Scheels Field” hopes to provide fans with an exciting game day atmosphere to kick off the new season of Dragon football.
The Dragon Football team will take on Winona State on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. on the newly renovated Scheels Field. The last Dragons night game was September 20, 1986, when Moorhead beat Kearney State 27-17.
Construction on Scheels Field took place this summer. New turf and lights were funded by Scheels in partnership with Laps for the Long Run event that took place with President Anne Blackhurst running 50 laps around the track to raise money for the field’s construction.
“Thanks to the gracious gift from Scheels, we have an amazing stage for our students and student-athletes to compete and enjoy,” said Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Production Jon Wepking. “This is a great example of the community embracing what’s happening here at MSUM and helping us push the momentum even further, which is cause for celebration. So why not invite everyone to the party and make it an absolute blowout?”
Athletic Director Doug Peters mentioned in an interview with Dragon Athletics that he hopes to break the current record of 6,200 people in attendance on opening day.
Wepking is excited for opening day at Scheels Field to showcase more than just a football game.
“We’re proud of our family friendly environment,” said Wepking. “For Opening Day, we’re making sure that everyone who attends not only enjoys the fantastic caliber of NSIC football, but also a show that will keep them engaged, entertained, and eager to come back.”
Promotions at the game include a chance for a lucky fan to win $20,000 cash, a student to win a $1,500 scholarship, and one fan will win a one year lease of a 2015 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition, donated by Valley Imports as a part of their “Take a Free Ride with Valley Imports Promotion” in partnership with Dragon Athletics.
Pre-game activities include a bounce house for kids, balloon artists, face painting and tailgating. A fireworks show will follow the game, and the field will be opened up to fans.
Wepking is also thrilled with the opportunities for promotion that partnerships provide.
“Continually trying to top the biggest promotions we’ve ever done is certainly getting much more difficult,” said Wepking. “With this year’s promotions, we’re focused on making fans winners. Winning $100 cash is great, but just imagine their face when they get handed the keys to their new car. Gives me goosebumps.”
Wepking and the athletic department are hoping the game’s promotions get fans fired up to support Dragon athletes in all sports year long. “It’s all about creating the best student-athlete environment we possibly can,” said Wepking. “When you’ve got a packed house of fans looking to win big and then get treated to a great game with more prizes piled on top, it makes for a fantastic stage.”