Columbia prepares for ESPN's 'College GameDay'

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 7:36 p.m. CDT; updated 11:37 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Kevin Schawo shops for a Mizzou T-shirt at a shop downtown on Tuesday. The Homecoming game against Oklahoma on Saturday is nearly sold out, and Columbia merchants are eagerly anticipating the crowds coming not just for Homecoming but also for the ESPN "College GameDay" broadcast live from Francis Quadrangle.

COLUMBIA — Extra coffee. Extra beer. Extra staff.

Downtown businesses are preparing for a surge in traffic expected to come this weekend from the combined festivities of Homecoming and ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

Quick Facts

Saturday, October 23


"College GameDay" broadcast

8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Francis Quadrangle at MU


Homecoming game kickoff

7 p.m., Faurot Field

Broadcast on ABC



Public parking lots open at 7 a.m.

RV lots open at 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday



Pregame and post-game traffic guidelines will help facilitate smooth traffic flow



General admission tickets are sold out, but as of Tuesday night, some scattered singles remained. Call 1-800-CAT-PAWS for tickets, or purchase them online.

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It will mark the first time MU has hosted the program, which will be broadcast live from Francis Quadrangle on Friday and Saturday.

The ESPN show, which averages more than 2 million viewers, originates from the day’s best game, or the game with the most compelling storyline, said ESPN spokesman Mike Humes.

The undefeated No. 18 Missouri Tigers will take on the undefeated No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field at 7 p.m., Saturday.

“College GameDay,” which Humes calls interactive, fun and informative, won an Emmy this year in the category Outstanding Studio Show — Weekly.

An undetermined but large number of students will stand about 15 feet behind the stage, Humes said.

“They provide the atmosphere for the show,” he said. “They play a very important role in the energy of the show.”

Students also are encouraged to bring signs to support their team, Humes said.

“We love to see the signs,” he said. “We believe they add an element to the show. The key is they have to be fun and good-natured.”

Business burst

Downtown businesses are hoping to capitalize on both "College GameDay" crowd and Homecoming. 

Campus Bar and Grill, the closest bar to the event, anticipates a post-broadcast crowd, said general manager Matt Hudson. The restaurant will be fully staffed and fully stocked.  

Hudson said almost everyone on staff is scheduled to work Saturday.

“We basically load up on everything — all the kegs and all the food we can fit in our freezer,” he said.

Lakota Coffee is making similar preparations.

“It’s pretty much double everything — double pastries, double food prep, double staff,” manager Andrew Ducharme said.

Ducharme said he hopes to see triple the normal customer volume.

Kaldi’s Coffee “got hit really hard” during the Roots ‘N’ Blues ‘N’ BBQ Festival, lead barista Steve Schuh said. It is increasing food preparation and staff for the weekend.

“One person, maybe two, have the day off,” Schuh said.  

For Shakespeare’s Pizza, the presence of ESPN doesn’t mean much change.

“Homecoming in general is our busiest day of the year anyway, so we expect it to be crazy on that day,” general manager Tobias Epstein said.

The restaurant will open at 10 a.m., its traditional early opening time for Homecoming.

Public safety

For the MU Police Department, “College GameDay” and Homecoming are just routine events, Capt. Brian Weimer said. As with other football games, the department will partner with public-safety agencies from the city, county and state to enhance its efforts.

Because of a finite number of officers, MU Police plan to assign them based on where they’re needed throughout the day, Weimer said.

Weimer said the officers are prepared for a variety of scenarios that could occur, such as fans storming the field.

“There are measures in place, and there is staff in place, that would deal with that situation as it develops,” he said. “We have personnel that’s based off crowd expectations, and we utilize them on game days to take care of things.”

MU Police have contacted ESPN and other schools that have hosted “College GameDay” to learn from their safety strategies and see how MU could apply them.

Among the MU Police Department's challenges are monitoring the capacity crowd at the stadium. General admission tickets for the game are sold out, but a few scattered single seats remain, said Brent Lewis, associate director of ticket operations at MU.

There has been a surge in ticket sales since MU beat Texas A&M on Saturday, he said. He added that Homecoming games typically sell out.

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