The five-time Emmy award winning show ESPN College GameDay kicked off its 29th season at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas. Not only did they kick-off a new season but also said goodbye to the backbone of the show, Chris Fowler. It was a day full of firsts and lasts for the show, and it was an entire weekend full of excitement and prosperity for downtown Fort Worth.
The GameDay crew arrived on Wednesday to begin getting ready for showtime on Saturday. The head coordinators of the show opened accounts with many of the local businesses in the area. These businesses catered to the entire GameDay staff and talent, met any needs of the show, for example pounds and pounds of ice, and dealt with the streets surrounding their storefronts to be blocked off. As GameDay was in town for a major week 1 game, Alabama vs. Wisconsin, it is difficult to tell exactly how much revenue the show brings to these local businesses; however, one of the restaurants, Bird Café, received an opportunity to be showcased on the show, so it is likely they will experience a large increase in customers over the coming weeks due to the advertisement.
The day of the big show arrived, and fans piled into Sundance Square as early as 5 a.m. in order to get a front row spot. By 6 the set was full of the talent filming segments for SportsCenter and interacting with the crowd. At one point Lee Corso threw up the horned frog hand sign in support for the local fans.
Once the show itself started, Sundance Square became alive. Fans from all over the country packed into the square with flags and signs supporting their favorite teams. These fan-brought flags included the traditional Washington State University flag that has been flown at every College GameDay location since the 2004 season. In addition to the fans, schools from all over the DFW area were represented. The TCU and SMU cheerleaders were in attendance; the Baylor cheer team also were in attendance as they had come in town for the SMU vs. Baylor game that took place the day before.
Key points during the week 1 show included a farewell to Chris Fowler, David Pollack completing a box-jump for George Whitfield in dress clothes, and Brad Paisley performing for the crowd. Fowler made a thoughtfully scripted and heartfelt speech to the rest of the analysts and GameDay audience. He wished Rece Davis good luck and gave Corso a kiss telling him to continue on doing what he loves as long as he desires. Pollack was challenged by host Samantha Ponder to attempt 54” box jump during George Whitfield’s segment. He accepted the challenge and completed the jump with ease. Not only was Paisley the guest picker this week but he also performed his new single “Country Nation.” Paisley had fun with the lyrics by incorporating many colleges into the song.
Overall, the fans of Fort Worth, Texas came out to support and filled up Sundance Square. With the show complete and the big game over, Alabama won 35-17, College GameDay has already announced it will be headed to East Lansing, Michigan for the Oregon vs. Michigan State game this coming weekend.