The University of Minnesota’s Northrop Mall will play host to ESPN’s “College GameDay,” the first time the wildly popular college football pregame show has aired on campus.
Northrop Memorial Auditorium will serve as the backdrop for the antics on Saturday morning. The show always includes celebrity predictions, screaming fans and personality Lee Corso donning a mascot head.
The distance between the auditorium and TCF Bank Stadium is a little more than a half-mile, but scouts are more interested in a wide-open, scenic space than they are in proximity. The Mall,which was designed more than 100 years ago, has been the site of everything from student protests to the recent inauguration of University president Joan Gabel.
Admission is free, so spots with the best views usually get taken up fast. Access isn’t typically available until 5 a.m., but diehard fans often show up earlier in hopes of securing space in the restricted “pit” area, the best chance spectators have of Mom seeing them on national TV. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, fans attending the first-ever “GameDay” at Iowa State earlier this season started lining up at 3:30 a.m.
Crews don’t normally start building the set until Thursday, but because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the setup will begin on Wednesday. The talent — host Rece Davis and analysts Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard — isn’t expected to fly in until Friday, leaving a shorter window than usual to take in the city.