‘The center of the college football universe for one week’: How Duke prepared for College GameDay

The Blue Devil faithful woke up early and packed the College GameDay set.
The Blue Devil faithful woke up early and packed the College GameDay set.

In less than a week, Duke’s main campus has transformed from a construction zone to a full-blown television set. The reason? College GameDay. 

ESPN announced Sept. 23 that College GameDay would come to Durham for the first time to cover Duke’s highly-anticipated Saturday game against Notre Dame. A week later, the West Campus bus stop was adorned with metal scaffolding and stage equipment, and a photo-op College GameDay desk sat on Abele Quad. By Monday, the set-up will be gone. 

College GameDay trucks first rolled onto campus early this week, and the work quickly began from there. With the main stage at the West Campus bus stop circle and Abele Quad covered with Geico, DoorDash and Dunkin’ sponsor tents, the Centennial construction that interrupted students’ first month back on campus was nowhere to be seen. 

According to Mike Dausch, director of the office of project management, Duke Athletics, Facilities Management and outside contractors worked to suspend Abele Quad’s renovations in response to College GameDay. 

“Fortunately, the project had reached a point where both sides of Chapel Drive could be opened for GameDay with temporary measures to keep pedestrians safe,” Dausch wrote in an email to The Chronicle. 

The concourse area was set up late Friday night after all buses finished running. The College GameDay crew worked overnight to finish setting up the space. 

In addition to the set itself, the set-up required production, video and audio teams. Steadicam operator Justin Amash, who set up on Friday, estimated that there were around 100 crew members working on preparing for production.

It wasn’t just the College GameDay crew working — a few students were enlisted to help with the preparation Friday morning.

Sophomore Caleb Dalgetty first started helping with the set-up at 9 a.m. on Friday and continued Saturday for set up and cleanup. 

The set-up’s location was also a conscious choice. With the Duke Chapel in the background of the College GameDay set, Dalgetty noted that it highlighted “what people really think of when they imagined Duke’s campus.”

“I was talking to a couple of people about having the set out by Cameron [Indoor Stadium], close to the basketball stadium, but they didn't really want to do that because they wanted to separate it from the basketball,” Dalgetty said. “They come here all the time for basketball stuff. So just really letting the football team really be the star of the show and just letting them be the stars for the day.” 

Less than an hour after production, the set was already being taken down, and the Duke campus construction will continue.

According to Dausch, normal construction activities are scheduled to resume on Monday in order to have renovations completed for Duke’s Centennial celebration in January. 

“It’s pretty cool that Duke’s the center of the college football universe for one week,” Dalgetty said. “It’s not a small effort. It’s worth it to get to do it.” 

Jothi Gupta profile
Jothi Gupta | University News Editor

Jothi Gupta is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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