The city has allowed ESPN to close for more than 48 hours a block of Market Street - a major city thoroughfare - near Independence Mall to set up its roving weekly college football GameDay live telecast.
ESPN chose Philadelphia for its weekly College GameDay show because undefeated Temple University is playing Notre Dame on Saturday night at sold-out Lincoln Financial Field in this weekend's prime-time college football game.
The event offers great exposure for Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter's spokesman Mark McDonald said Thursday night, calling it, "an excellent opportunity to market the city to a national audience."
The city gave permission for ESPN to use space on Market Street between 5th and 6th streets to set up the stage for its GameDay college football telecast, McDonald said. GameDay will be broadcast live from here Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
"After discussions with the [ESPN] network and city officials, the city decided" to allow ESPN to set up its GameDay production stage on Market Street "to maximize the iconic visual of Independence Hall in the background," he said.
A permit issued Wednesday by the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service gave ESPN Productions Inc. permission to operate from 6 a.m. Thursday to 7 p.m. Saturday. During that time, Market Street will be closed to vehicle traffic between 5th and 6th streets.
According to the permit, ESPN "is responsible for all costs associated with managing and monitoring permitted activity." The permit also states that ESPN was required and has bought a $1 million liability insurance policy to cover its GameDay event here. ESPN's parent company Walt Disney Co. bought the insurance policy.
ESPN production trucks arrived early Thursday morning in the city and by 10 a.m. Market Street was closed to vehicles between 5th and 6th streets.
ESPN is paying the park service and Philadelphia police departments for security costs and also will provide its own private security, Keri Potts, an ESPN spokeswoman, said by email.
Traffic diversions for ESPN GameDay have happened before, she said, as recently as in Michigan a few weeks ago its telecast there.