MEMPHIS, Tenn. — College GameDay has begun to take over Beale Street, with crews arriving for setup around 6 a.m. Thursday.
More than 100 people were working around the clock to get everything ready for Saturday, building two different TV sets, dozens of light fixtures, and security barricades. As one ESPN official put it, this show is a well-oiled machine.
To put it simply, College GameDay has seen a lot of different venues, but never anything like this.
“There’s only one Beale Street, and here we are," said Judi Weiss, senior operations producer with ESPN. "We’re in Memphis and looking forward to interacting with not only locals, but students and alumni.”
College GameDay began setting up not one, but two stages for their TV production, which will actually start Friday with segments on their signature show, SportsCenter.
The madness will really take off on Saturday morning, as parking lots will open at 5 a.m., and some Beale Street bars will start serving alcohol as early as 7 a.m.
The College GameDay show will hit the air at 8 a.m. Central time, providing a once-in-a-lifetime showcase for Memphians and Tiger fans.
"We’re hoping everybody comes out and just embraces the energy and the electricity of just being on Beale Street, which is really special,” Weiss said.
The location is part of sets the city and the university apart, said Laird Veatch, athletic director for the U of M.
"As we’re thinking about recruiting and displaying what the University of Memphis is, we’re going to have every chance to brand it as the University of Memphis and the Tigers. We’re going to have Tiger fans all over the place.”