Yes, this is kind of a big deal.
St. John’s-St. Thomas is one of the best and longest-running rivalries at the Division III level of college football. Today’s renewal will mark the 87th meeting between the two Minnesota schools, with this one being played at Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.
According to the Associated Press, more than 35,000 tickets have already been sold for the game that kicks off at 2:20 ET Saturday afternoon. That number will likely more than double the previous D-III single-game attendance record of 17,535 set in October of 2016 for UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater. The record that game broke? The 17,327 that were in attendance for the 2015 St. Thomas-St. John’s game.
In fact, this rivalry between the two Catholic schools accounts for four of the top seven single-game attendance marks at that level of football. From D3Football.com:
17,535: UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater, 10/8/16
17,327: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/26/15
16,514: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/24/16
16,421: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 10/2/10
15,287: UW-Platteville at UW-Whitewater, 10/3/15
14,437: Randolph-Macon at Hampden-Sydney, 11/12/94 (100th meeting)
14,286: St. Thomas at St. John’s, 9/15/12
13,671: Amherst at Williams, 11/11/89 (New England small-college record)
13,627: UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater, 10/25/14
13,107: Bethel at St. John’s, 11/8/03 (John Gagliardi’s 409th win)
Today’s game will also fare favorably when compared to its big football brother as, according to research undertaken by the St. Thomas sports information department, the attendance for this contest will exceed the attendance of 20 of the 40 FBS bowl games played last season.
“If we could do this every single week for the rest of my career, sign me up right now,” St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso told the AP. “It has been an absolute blast, and it would never, ever get old. Are there extra media requests? Yes. Are there extra ticket requests? Sure. But at the end of the day if you can’t get genuinely excited about this opportunity, then what are we doing coaching this sport?”
In addition to the attendance record, this matchup will also mark the first-ever college football game played at the major league park.