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Football parking options reduced

Mary Kate Malone | Friday, September 16, 2005

The tens of thousands of football fans expected for Saturday’s game will be greeted by 1,700 fewer parking spaces for their vehicles than in past years.

After a summer of campus construction, a major four-lane roadway – Edison Road – now runs through Blue Field south, a favorite spot for tailgaters that held about 1,700 vehicles. Blue Field south, also home to soccer fields, was located just south of Edison Road.

As a result, fans hoping to park there on Saturday will be encouraged to park in White Field north, located north of Douglas Road and west of Juniper Road.

“We’re providing plenty of parking areas in White Field north,” said Phil Johnson, assistant director of Notre Dame Security/Police. “And we will run a shuttle from there to the library. We’ll have adequate room for anyone who wants to park on campus.”

Student tailgating areas have also been relocated. This year tailgaters will be in Blue Field north, located north of Edison Road and east of the Eck baseball stadium.

Despite predictions that there will be 15,000 vehicles on campus this weekend, Johnson said the campus would still be able to accommodate everyone.

“We’ve always had excess capacity in [White Field north],” Johnson said. “We’re confident we can provide all the replacement parking spaces that we lost on the south end of campus.”

Johnson hopes some fans will park at off-campus hotels, Saint Mary’s or the South Bend Airport and rely on a shuttle service to bring them to campus for the game.

Transpo shuttle service will release a fleet of 20 buses three hours before kickoff to pick up and drop off Notre Dame and Michigan State fans from locations throughout the city.

“The buses will run a continuous loop,” said Transpo general manager Mary McLain. “They don’t come on a schedule because of traffic but once they start they run continuously from campus and run from a variety of locations. We use the most direct way to get fans back to campus.”

The buses will begin their final loop around the city 45 minutes before kick-off. But they also won’t leave fans downtown that couldn’t fit on an overcrowded bus, McLain said.

“Let’s say the bus fills up with people, then we will make arrangements so someone can come get them. We won’t leave anyone behind,” McLain said.

Transpo is expecting – and prepared for – heavier-than-usual crowds for the first home game, McLain said.

“The buses are more popular this year because of higher gas prices, more limited parking [on campus] and more hype with the football team,” Transpo marketing assistant Jeannette Barnhart said. “We’re expecting higher than average numbers.”

Johnson expects the parking situation will improve in the coming years.

“We hope that after construction [Blue Field south] will cure and we’ll be able to restore parking,” Johnson said.

A Transpo ride from downtown or the airport will cost $4 each way. From St. Joseph High School or Saint Mary’s, it will be $2. Transportation to and from White Field north is free.