MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With one full day in the books to prepare for ESPN College GameDay, city and university leaders continue to coordinate one of the biggest parties Memphis has ever hosted.
Ticket and merchandise sales are some of the highest the school has ever been, but this is an event that will span miles, from Beale Street to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, and officials are making sure every detail gets taken care of.
The biggest challenge Saturday might not be the massive matchup against undefeated SMU, but instead, what to do with the thousands of Tiger fans between 5 a.m., when downtown will begin to open up, and the 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The good news is that everyone seems to be working together.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be figured out,” University of Memphis Athletic Director Laird Veatch said. “But what’s been great is, there’s been no hurdles or issues. Everybody’s just trying to figure out how to make it happen.”
City of Memphis officials confirmed to WREG that details regarding increased law enforcement, street closures and public transit are being finalized with ESPN and the university. Details are expected to be released sometime Tuesday or Wednesday.
“It becomes about the city and about the university,” Veatch said. “There’s opportunities to display all the really good things that are going on on-campus and really beyond just the game itself.”
One of the busiest parts of campus leading up to Saturday is the Tiger Bookstore.
“This week it started out 8:30 Monday morning, and we have not stopped since,” Tiger Bookstore manager Jeremy Stinson said.
Stinson said they’re doing the most business they’ve ever done before a football game, and they’ve even got a special GameDay shirt they’ve partnered with ESPN to sell.
“Right now, online, you can pre-order shirts that are ESPN-specific,” Stinson said. “We do have two different designs of those coming in, and two different hats.”
All of this aims to make sure fans are ready for what could be a special moment in Tiger football history.
“It shows kids when they’re making their college decision of where they want to go and what they want to do, that all things can happen for them here in Memphis,” head coach Mike Norvell said.