Fort Worth

ESPN makes a comeback to Cowtown for a week of shows

ESPN’s Jesse Palmer, left, and Chris Cotter, right, prepare with their crew for their afternoon broadcast. Sports television network ESPN is broadcasting some of its shows, including College Football Live, from Sundance Square in Fort Worth starting Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, and during the week leading up to the National College Football Championship game.
ESPN’s Jesse Palmer, left, and Chris Cotter, right, prepare with their crew for their afternoon broadcast. Sports television network ESPN is broadcasting some of its shows, including College Football Live, from Sundance Square in Fort Worth starting Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, and during the week leading up to the National College Football Championship game. Star-Telegram

As ESPN’s College Football Live was airing Monday afternoon in Sundance Square Plaza, Austin Hall stood out as an actual fan for one of the teams coming to North Texas later this week.

Wearing a green Oregon sweatshirt, Hall was on a mission to score tickets to Monday night’s inaugural College Football National Championship game between Oregon and Ohio State.

With the cheapest tickets going more than $500, Hall faces long odds of getting into AT&T Stadium.

“I could probably go up $250 but that’s about it,” said Hall, 20, a student at University of North Texas. “If not, there’s always watching it on TV.”

That’s why ESPN setting up shop in Sundance Square was perfect for Hall. He could grab some lunch, stroll through the plaza and feel like he was part of the event without tapping into his savings.

ESPN will broadcast live out of Fort Worth all week, and other game-related events, including Playoff Fan Central — a college football entertainment venue — are in Dallas as a prelude to Monday’s game in Arlington.

This weekend, Hall plans to visit both Dallas and Fort Worth.

“This way I can still feel like I’m part of it,” said Hall, who also came to Fort Worth in August when ESPN’s College Gameday kicked off the college football season in Sundance Square.

Busy this weekend

Back in August, temperatures climbed into the 90s and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit used a towel to wipe off the sweat during commercial breaks.

But on Monday morning, as ESPN went live from Fort Worth, temperatures were in the mid-20s and the only folks in Sundance Square were ESPN staffers, Fort Worth police and a few people on their way to work.

Hall can expect to see a few more fans, from both Oregon and Ohio State, when he comes back to Fort Worth this weekend.

“Most of the fans won’t arrive until this weekend,” said Sundance Square’s Tracy Gilmour. “We’re expecting the big crowds to show up on Sunday and Monday. We are expecting our hotels to be full this weekend.”

A search of several travel websites found a few rooms still available downtown this weekend at the Sheraton and Hilton running from $232 to $289 a night, and the smaller Park Central Hotel had rooms for $89 a night.

Mike & Mike return

ESPN’s presence is similar to four years ago, when the network set up shop in Sundance Square during Super Bowl XLV.

Besides live segments on Sportscenter and daily airing of College Football Live, the popular radio show Mike & Mike, which is also shown on ESPN 2, will begin airing at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“There’s a complete schedule of shows,” Gilmour said. “It’s very similar to what we saw with the Super Bowl.”

While temperatures will remain low throughout most of the week — Thursday morning’s low could dip to a Green Bay-like 15 degrees — there doesn’t appear to be a repeat of the Super Bowl ice storm that gridlocked Dallas-Fort Worth most of the week.

There will be chances of rain Friday through Sunday night, but temperatures are expected to remain above freezing when it arrives.

“We’ll just have to see how the forecast evolves, but I will say the rain chances have been increasing in our forecast models,” said Jennifer Dunn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

ESPN in Sundance Square

Tuesday

8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. SportsCenter Sundance Square, ESPN, and 1:30-2 p.m. College Football Live.

Wednesday

5-9 a.m. Mike & Mike, ESPN2

8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. SportsCenter, ESPN

Noon-1:30 p.m. SVP & Russillo, ESPNEWS

1:30-2 p.m. College Football Live, ESPN

Thursday

5-9 a.m. Mike & Mike, ESPN2

8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. SportsCenter, ESPN

Noon-1:30 pm. SVP & Russillo, ESPNEWS

1:30-2 p.m. College Football Live, ESPN

Friday

5-9 a.m. Mike & Mike, ESPN2

8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. SportsCenter, ESPN

Noon-1:30 p.m. SVP & Russillo, ESPNEWS

1:30-2 p.m. College Football Live, ESPN

Sunday

7:30-8 a.m. The Sports Reporters, ESPN2

8-9 a.m. SportsCenter, ESPN

8-9 a.m. Colin's Football Show, ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Championship Drive: Countdown to Kickoff, ESPN

11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Monday Championship Drive: College Football Playoff National Championship Preview, ESPN2

Monday

5-9 a.m. Mike & Mike, ESPN2

9 a.m.-noon The Herd with Colin Cowherd, ESPNU

Noon-2 p.m. SVP & Russillo, ESPNEWS

2-3 p.m. SVP & Russillo, ESPN3

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