Mac Engel

Fort Worth needs to show out for ESPN’s Game Day

ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis names favorite Sundance Square restaurants

ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis said he enjoys many of the fine restaurants located in downtown Fort Worth, including Salsa Limon, Reata and Riscky's.
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ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis said he enjoys many of the fine restaurants located in downtown Fort Worth, including Salsa Limon, Reata and Riscky's.

If you, or your kid, wants their handmade sign to appear on ESPN’s eternally popular College GameDay show, Saturday in the a.m. is your perfect chance.

Perfect because unlike most GameDay shows, there is no assurance of a capacity, rave-like crowd where camera time is a fierce, Darwinian competition.

Which is the issue, so please go. Fort Worth needs you in Sundance Square when ESPN’s red lights come on for the GameDay show.

GameDay is back to start the 2019 college football season, and specifically the Oregon/Auburn game on Saturday night at Jerry’s Club in Arlington.

One of former Fort Worth mayor Mike Moncrief’s best sales pitches was to ESPN to use Sundance Square as a backdrop for the network’s remote studio shows. The pitch was for ESPN to use the locale during the Super Bowl in 2011.

Now, that Super Bowl week was a Roland Emmerich-style disaster complete with record-low temperatures, Category 4 winds, arctic ice and actual snow that would not melt. In hindsight, other than that, everything was great.

Sundance Square as an ESPN backdrop is ideal for a network show, and quality PR for Fort Worth. It may not translate into big cash, but it’s positive PR and a nice look for the city.

“Over the last decade, ESPN and Sundance Square have had a great relationship,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN’s Senior VP of Production. “We have always enjoyed our time there and hospitality of the locals. But, most importantly for us, it’s an area with devoted football fans. We can’t wait to experience that passion on Saturday morning.”

About that ...

When ESPN has returned to Sundance for its GameDay, the audiences have not been ... an audience befitting GameDay.

Blame some of this on our heat here in late August and early September. Blame some of this on the fact the version of this Game Day is not on a college campus, which ultimately is what makes it appealing, and a draw for spectators. It’s easier to party on a campus.

Blame some of this on the fact the the show is filmed before a game that is played 22 miles away, and the respective fan bases may not actually be staying in Fort Worth.

All of these are perfectly good reasons for these GameDay shows from Sundance Square to feature less than crazy, capacity crowds.

Nonetheless, it’s not a great look. If the audience continues to be ish, ESPN can find another locale.

Where else would GameDay go in DFW for a backdrop? They’re not going to Arlington, Irving, Frisco or Dallas, but they would certainly try the latter simply because it can.

With maybe the possible exception of Austin, downtown Fort Worth is the best downtown in Texas.

For the sake of the city, it would be good for GameDay if fans are in Sundance in good numbers to create a fun environment as backdrop for the show.

Parking is free. Sundance Square is pedestrian friendly, and a good way to start any day. You don’t have to arrive when the three-hour show starts at 8 a.m. ESPN is giving away free t-shirts to the first 1,000 fans who arrive, and one of the best football players ever is the featured celebrity guest picker.

Bo Jackson, welcome to Fort Worth; be sure to order the guac at Los Asaderos (this is not a paid advertisement, but I am open to bribes).

So make a sign. Get yourself, or your kids, on TV to represent Texas, A&M, Tech, TCU, Baylor, et all.

Because by showing up and representing your school on GameDay, you’re representing Fort Worth.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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