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Game-day parking benefits SMC

Katie Kohler | Monday, November 6, 2006

A $20 bill and a vow not to tailgate can earn South Bend visitors a parking spot on the Saint Mary’s campus – just 1.5 miles from Notre Dame Stadium – on a crowded football Saturday.

“[Athletic] teams help with the parking of cars, which greatly benefits their programs,” Director of Security Dan Gariepy said.

After games, traffic is altered – only right turns are allowed onto Route 31 going south until downtown South Bend – to make exiting campus more efficient.

“We do this because it is the fastest way to clear the campus,” Gariepy said.

Saint Mary’s athletics are not the only ones who profit from campus parking, as sales at the Saint Mary’s bookstore are also affected by the influx of people.

The Shaheen Bookstore, normally open from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, opens an hour earlier to accommodate the crowds on game days. The bookstore also opens from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays – when it is typically closed – after Notre Dame football games.

Bookstore manager Michael Hicks estimates a 20 percent increase in sales on football weekends.

“The increase in bookstore traffic is due primarily to alumnae, parents of current students and prospective students visiting the Student Center,” he said.

Hicks does not attribute the increase entirely to parking.

“Because the bookstore is not located near the parking area, we don’t notice much casual traffic,” he said. “[We would definitely] welcome any additional traffic that would be the result of public parking at Saint Mary’s.”

On-campus parking is restricted to the Science Hall lot and on grassy areas allowed by Opus Hall. No serious damage has been done to the landscape by allowing cars to park on the grass.

Although the parking may seem like an encroachment upon Opus residents, security has not received complaints from inconvenienced students.

“Everyone seems aware of the benefits,” Gariepy said. “Notre Dame football adds to the local economy and we at Saint Mary’s College benefit as well.”

Senior Opus resident Kim LaVigne arrived on campus in time for the second quarter of the North Carolina game this past weekend.

“Campus was full of cars parked on the grass and in the Science Hall lot, but I was able to find a spot for my own car without a problem,” she said.

While the extra traffic is noticeable, finding parking spots for students living in Opus Hall or anywhere else on campus has not posed a large problem.

“I don’t mind the extra activity at all,” LaVigne said.