It took a little longer than usual to make the announcement, but ESPN’s “College GameDay” is indeed coming to Philadelphia, the network said Monday afternoon.
The popular college football pregame show will be televised from Independence Mall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The show is coming to Philadelphia in advance of the game that night between Temple and Notre Dame in a battle of nationally ranked teams. The game will be broadcast on ABC, giving the surging Temple program even more national exposure.
The game is sold out.
Philadelphia won the “GameDay” battle over ESPN’s second choice – Washington State in Pullman, Wash. Washington State (5-2) will host No. 8 Stanford (6-1) in a key Pac-12 game on Saturday.
But it was hard to trump the sizzle associated with No. 21 Temple and No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1). Temple has started 7-0 for the first time in school history after a comeback 24-14 win Thursday at East Carolina.
“This was the toughest call we had to make in my 12-year tenure producing the show,” said Lee Fitting, a senior coordinating producer at ESPN, in an email to The Inquirer. “There were two schools that ”College GameDay“ has not visited, in addition to having great seasons.”
The rankings certainly mattered.
“In this case, the ‘ranked vs. ranked’ matchup gave Philly the edge,” Fitts said. “Ol’ Crimson has been such a big part of the ”GameDay fabric over the years – we vow to get to Pullman one day.“
According to an ESPN spokeswoman, the show’s set will be located on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets. The stage will be in the middle of the street.
In the days leading up to the decision, Temple fans were whipped into a social media frenzy, with the team’s followers campaigning for ”GameDay to come to Philadelphia.
“GameDay is more than just a football show. The publicity for the university and the city is invaluable.
”Having ESPN ‘College GameDay’ come to Philadelphia is tremendous not only for Temple football, but for the university as a whole as well as the city of Philadelphia,“ Temple’s athletic director, Patrick Kraft, said in a statement.
Each week’s ”GameDay site is usually announced Sunday morning or early afternoon. Complicating this week’s announcement is that Independence Mall is part of the Independence National Historical Park, and as a federal facility there are different requirements to stage an event.
“We have a normal set of requirements that stem from the laws and regulations and we have to come to terms with those,” Cindy MacLeod, the park’s superintendent, said Monday. “In this case we finally were able to have a meeting between the park, city, and ESPN and work out all the details, and that happened this morning.”
This will be the second time “GameDay” will appear in Philadelphia. The show came to Franklin Field in 2002 before a game between Penn and Harvard.
ESPN personalities typically on the show include host Rece Davis along with the always entertaining Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Samantha Ponder. Herbstreit will be the analyst for the ABC game along with play-by-play man Chris Fowler and field reporter Heather Cox.
Typically, thousands of people attend “GameDay” and if social media is any indication, Temple should bring a sizable crowd.
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