LOUISVILLE,KY.(WHAS 11)--The big game is just a day away for University of Louisville and Florida State, but campus has been buzzing all week long. It's the first time for ESPN's College GameDay to take center stage at the university.
The show has a massive set and production set up just outside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The GameDay hosts are scheduled to arrive Friday morning, but getting the show together is a multiple day undertaking.
“We travel with a crew of about 45 people on the operation side, and then we do bring in local labor to assist with building the sets and stages. We try to reach out to the schools to see if they have any students who are in broadcast programs that can come out and help our camera guys every week,” GameDay Senior Operations Producer Judi Weiss said.
Weiss said the first crews usually get to a campus the Wednesday morning before the Saturday game. They use that day to park trucks and unload some of the lighter gear. On Thursdays, they typically start building the set to get ready for the first live shows on Friday mornings.
This happens at campus after campus for 15 weeks in the fall. Weiss said they typically know where they're going for the first two weeks well in advance, but after week three it all depends on how teams across the country are doing. Weiss said ESPN typically waits to make the decision for the following week until after the Saturday night games.
Several diehard U of L fans came out to watch the set up on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve been a huge U of L fan for 40 years or so and a huge college football fan as a matter of fact. This is just the epitome of what this program and how this program has grown,” fan Ron Loeser said. “Just taking this all in before the young college kids get here tomorrow and Saturday and enjoying just a nice quiet time and just reflecting on where we’ve grown and where we’ve come from. I’m real excited for the ball game, too.”
As for Saturday's rainy forecast, Weiss said the team has seen it all and encouraged fans to embrace whatever Mother Nature throws out.
“I’m putting it out there if rain didn’t keep the fans at that other school away, I’m expecting all Louisville fans, Louisville Cardinal fans to be out at this game this week,” Weiss said.
ESPN wants to remind all of the fans that food, drinks, bags, and signs on sticks are not allowed inside the GameDay pit. The signs that make the show standout are highly encouraged, though.
“Please bring your creative juices to our show because we’d like to see those signs out there on Saturday morning,” Weiss said.
It takes a ton of work to get everything set up, but Weiss said it only takes about five hours to tear everything down. That process starts immediately after the show wraps up Saturday.
The game isn't until noon, but gates open at 4:00 a.m. Saturday.