Gary Pinkel and the Missouri football team aren’t the only ones gearing up for Saturday’s Homecoming football game against top-ranked Oklahoma.
With an influx of fans, media and alumni headed to campus this weekend for both Homecoming festivities and the arrival of ESPN’s College GameDay, Campus Facilities and the athletics department are both getting prepared.
The forefront of attention will be on Francis Quadrangle, which will serve as the site for the first appearance of ESPN’s College GameDay in Columbia. GameDay, a television program previewing the day in college football, is set to run Friday from 9:20 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. With the national spotlight shining on Jesse Hall and the Columns, the athletics department is out in full force, making sure that everything is just right.
“It’s like a rock concert that you’re helping host and put on down at the Quad,” Athletics Department spokesman Chad Moller said. “It’s taking a lot of planning and a lot of meetings to make sure everything is going to be lined up.”
The record crowd for a College GameDay broadcast is 15,800, held by the University of Nebraska. With the Quad’s capacity at about 24,000, Moller said he believes the stage is set for MU to take over the top spot.
“Our goal is to pack the quad and beat the record,” Moller said. “We certainly expect to have a great showing Saturday morning.”
Even with a large crowd expected for the broadcast, Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said she doesn’t anticipate much extra work to be needed on the Quad from a maintenance standpoint.
“We pride ourselves in keeping (the Quad) clean on a regular basis, so it doesn’t require a whole lot of extra planning,” Seville said. “We do expect some damage, but it won’t be the first time we’ve had to make repairs to the sod on the Quad.”
In addition to the Quad, Campus Facilities is making sure the rest of campus is in pristine condition. Surveying the campus on golf carts, Associate Vice Chancellor Gary Ward and members of the Campus Facilities staff look for any potential eyesores. Seville said the goal is for the campus to be picture-perfect.
“Homecoming and also commencement are the two events that we really put extra time in taking golf cart tours and making sure anyone taking a photo on campus is going to have a nice, clean campus to photograph,” Seville said.
Another area receiving extra attention this weekend is parking. With GameDay expected to draw large crowds early in the day, Tiger Scholarship Fund donor parking and accessible parking will open at 7 a.m. Several parking lots and parking structures surrounding the Quad have also been designated as suggested parking for both GameDay and the Homecoming parade, according to the Mizzou game day website.
The Mizzou Alumni Association, which orchestrates many of the Homecoming events around campus, has also had to make some changes. In order to accommodate GameDay, the Alumni Association chose to change the start time of the annual Homecoming Parade from 9 a.m. to noon.
“We think it’s important that students and alums get to experience all of Mizzou Homecoming,” Coordinator of Student Programs Carrie Bien said. “This year, that includes ESPN College GameDay, so we thought it important to move the parade start time back so that they can go to both.”