The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is anticipating hosting thousands of people on Saturday morning, Sept. 28, when ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasts live from outside Memorial Stadium.
Since the show hasn’t been hosted at UNL since 2007, The Daily Nebraskan created a list of six ways College GameDay has and will impact campus.
Parking and traffic
Set up for the show, which began Wednesday, Sept. 25, has reduced lot and metered parking on the north side of the Memorial Stadium loop, according to Nebraska Today.
All donor lots, except for the loop, will open five hours earlier than normal at 5 a.m., according to Keith Mann, assistant athletic director of communications. Most of the loop parking spots will be available again at noon on Saturday, as filming ends at 11 a.m., but parking for metered stalls and permit holders may remain closed through Sunday, Sept. 29, according to Leslie Reed, UNL’s director of public affairs.
“We will start the break down immediately following the show,” said Derek Volner, ESPN’s communications manager for college sports. “The time it takes differs at each location, but, by gametime, it will be almost as if we were never there.”
According to a statement from UNL Police Department Captain Aaron Pembleton, congested traffic and lane closures will be likely around 14th and Vine streets. He said other road closures can be found on the live map in Waze.
According to Volner, the pit at the College GameDay stage fits 500 to 700 people. The pit opens at 5:30 a.m. and is first come, first serve. Those who aren’t waiting in line for a spot in the pit still have the option of hanging out on its outskirts, and people can come and go as they please, Volner said.
“While we love for everyone to come to the entire show to get the best experience, they may come at any point,” he said in an email.
As thousands of people are expected to attend the event and lines will start early, Volner said ESPN security is working closely with UNLPD to manage crowds and safety.
With the stage set up in the parking lot, there should be little impact on the landscaping around the stadium, according to assistant director of landscape services for facilities management and planning Jeff Culbertson.
“If there are plants that are damaged from the event, we will schedule replacements as soon as possible,” he said. “We may need to aerate and overseed the turf areas.”
Culbertson said a tree near the track grandstand was removed earlier this week, but it was a planned removal unrelated to this weekend’s event.
Revenue and marketing
Because millions of fans watch College GameDay, the Nebraska Athletic Department is expected to receive approximately $50 million in free advertising, according to Brandon Meier, senior associate athletics director of marketing and multimedia.
“It’s the type of coverage that you can’t buy or replicate easily,” Mann said.
Mann also predicted that the coverage gained from this year’s GameDay will be much more than the school received in 2007 due to progressions in technology and media.
“There’s a lot of eyeballs that tune into College GameDay every week, college football fans from all across the country,” Mann said. “That spotlight on the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska football program is great exposure that we haven’t had for a while.”
While ESPN will be handling the marketing, Meier said the Athletic Department is working to provide students with the information they need about the event.
Volner said the Athletic Department and the GameDay marketing team work together for the event.
“Each week, we work closely with the school to help promote our telecast and everything that’s going on around College GameDay,” Volner said. “We also utilize social media strongly, not only our own handles but also the school’s handles.”
The Athletic Department plans to open Cook Pavilion near Memorial Stadium when the GameDay show ends at 11 a.m., with activities to keep families and fans entertained until the game that night, according to Meier. Activities will include inflatables and performing bands.
“Energy in the air”
Since GameDay has not been to Nebraska in more than a decade, Volner said the anticipation is through the roof.
“[The anticipation] is something you can really feel building up throughout the week — we even feel it from out here in Connecticut,” he said. “Nebraska has been a school that has certainly historically been a part of the GameDay history. Since we haven’t been there in so long, it’s almost as if this weekend will represent a kind of homecoming for the show.”
Despite the hard work and potential obstacles, everyone agreed they’re excited for GameDay.
“Our fans have a history of turning out in full force to show how passionate they are about Nebraska,” Volner said. “And I think they’ll want to show that to the GameDay people here in town.”