Locals who want to get in on the festivities surrounding the College Football Playoff National Championship will have an opportunity to take part in various activities and pop-up events at the Indiana Convention Center from Saturday through Monday.
The free Playoff Fan Central will feature a plethora of sponsor booths ranging from a custom trading card creation area by Panini to multiple obstacle courses and football drill areas from the likes of USA Football and Chick-Fil-A. ESPN will also broadcast live from the convention center on multiple occasions as part of its College GameDay programming.
Fan Central will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A speaker and panel series on Saturday and Sunday will feature the likes of former Colts player Reggie Wayne, University of Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit and nearly two dozen other journalists, analysts, experts and former players. The hub will also feature displays of the major New Years Eve and New Years Day bowl game trophies and the Heisman Trophy.
Therapy dogs—through a program by Global Medical Response (which also sponsors IndyCar)—will be on-hand throughout the weekend, as will some puppies from the local animal shelter Love of Labs, which will be onsite for adoption. The dogs participated in a Puppies at the Playoff event on Friday night.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase from a variety of affiliated sponsors at the event.
Ryan Allen Hall, director of public events for the College Football Playoff, said the event is “symbiotic” with the championship game itself because it gives everyone an opportunity to participate in the college championship, even if they don’t have a ticket to the game.
“By coming here to Playoff Fan Central, or going to the Concerts on Monument Circle—those free events—everyone can have a piece and a part of the memory from this weekend, and that’s very important to us,” he said. “Yes, the game itself is critical, but this is equally as important to us.”
Hall said the while no requirements are in place for masks or vaccinations, fans attending public events, particularly those held indoors, will be recommended to mask up and are asked not to attend if they’re not feeling well.
He said the College Football Playoff is following all local and state policies tied to COVID-19, and that the organization’s leadership has “the right level of concern” about the virus’ potential spread. As a result, he noted the event is more spaced out than it’s been in years past.
“We wanted to make sure we knew what those concerns were and then put things in place to address them, like the spacing,” he said, noting that the convention center received extensive upgrades in summer 2020, including new hospital-grade air filters.
”We made the aisles nice and wide, so people didn’t feel like they had to be on top of each other. So we’ve heard those concerns and we know they’re real, but I think we’ve done a lot of the things … to address those concerns.”
For additional information about Playoff Fan Central, including a full schedule and rundown of activities, visit www.collegefootballplayoff.com.