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2007 Football Parking; Learning from the Past to Improve for the Future

Jan. 23, 2007

For some the 2007 football season seems too far into the future for consideration. However, for IPTAY and the event management staff preliminary meetings are already being held to address the challenges encountered during the 2006 season and how those challenges will be handled for the 2007 season. Before our staff can move forward with our plans for next season, we want to take this opportunity to share with our donors the areas that need improvement and how, if we work together, we can all reach our goal continuing to have one of the best game-day atmospheres in college football. These issues include traffic flow, parking availability, placard assignment, delivery, and design; as well as tailgating and safety issues. In the following weeks, the Orange and White will feature articles that take every available IPTAY parking area and describe in detail the demographics of each lot, number of spaces, and the IPTAY configuration of each lot. Hopefully this information will allow our all donors to make an informed decision on their level of giving and their desired 2007 football parking location.

The first issue on our minds, and most likely our fans’ minds, is traffic flow and parking availability. This is nothing new to Tiger fans and visitors to Clemson that have encountered the challenges that are created when nearly 40,000 cars enter into a town that, on a normal day, handles around half that many vehicles. The State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement officers have worked tirelessly to provide the most efficient paths into and out of Clemson on game-day given the situation that Clemson has with only two or three main exits out of town. One aspect that affects all donors as they make their way to and from the stadium is general public parking. Since the late ’80s there have been many changes to the amount of public parking that can be used on football Saturdays. Areas like Bowman field, the band practice field and the football practice fields are just a few of the areas that were once utilized to get cars off the road quickly so that all fans could park and begin their day in Clemson. IPTAY donors have also seen changes in their parking assignments as construction around Littlejohn, indoor track facility, and other campus projects have lead to adjustments in the available parking to IPTAY donors. As new projects continue to impact our parking facility, our staff and our donors will have to be flexible as the demand for parking near Memorial Stadium continues to increase.

At the risk of being redundant, it is important that we review again how parking is assigned on an annual basis. Parking is assigned once ticket orders are received based on the donation made by the March 15th IPTAY deadline. Donors are listed in priority order based on level and point total. This means that all Heisman donors are ranked in priority point order and assigned, followed by the Fike level donors, IPTAY donors, Tiger donors, and on through our membership that orders at least two season tickets. If a donor orders between 2-6 season tickets then one parking space is assigned (except Heisman, Fike, and McFadden level donors). This space is the best available based on the request made by the donor on their ticket order form. If they request the same as last year and that space is available then the assignment is made. However, if either a donor with a higher point total in their level or a higher membership level has already been assigned that space, then the next available space based on the donor’s request is assigned. This could be a only a few spaces away or in a different lot depending on the demand of those donors that have increased their membership levels. Keep in mind that the $1400 Tiger donor level is the minimum needed to get a reserved numbered space and does not guarantee and assignment in the premium lots around the stadium (lot 2, 3, 5, 8, Ave of Champions, Williamson Rd, Heisman St, etc). The same holds true for area lots such as lot 1, 3E, 3J, or lot 7. While only a $700 membership is needed for eligibility, the demand for these lots has pushed the average donation level up in many cases to the $1400 level. Be sure to read future articles as the membership breakdown for each lot is detailed.

Tailgating policies and safety go hand and hand. While Clemson Athletics and IPTAY want everyone to enjoy tailgating and the tremendous game day atmosphere, it is important that we take the appropriate steps to ensure everyone’s safety. For example, this past year a young child was hit by another car pulling into their space while playing football. The problem was compounded when the emergency vehicles had a difficult time getting to the area near Littlejohn because so many people were crowded onto the streets with chairs, tents, and other tailgating supplies. Fortunately, the injury was not severe. This is also a concern in many other lots where donors use their parking space to host large parties that take up more room than the five feet behind their vehicle; the designated space given to each assignee. IPTAY and the game management staff will take a hard look at tent use to ensure that safety is maintained in all of our lots. Another issue is golf carts, trailers, cookers, and other towed items that not only take up too much room in our parking lots but also create a problem for law enforcement when golf carts are trying to drive across busy streets. This will not be allowed for 2007. If a vehicle tries to enter a lot with any type of trailer, cooker, golf cart, etc., it will be turned away. The only vehicle that is allowed to bring a tow vehicle is a motor home that brings a car to drive around when visiting for more than one day.

An internal issue last year was the design and delivery problems with the 2006 parking placard. The lateness of the mailing resulted in duplicated passes being mailed, which caused many of our area lots to be overcrowded on game day. This issue will be corrected for 2007 by completing assignments earlier and mailing the placards out with the season tickets. The placard design will also be easier to read by our donors and law enforcement. Additionally, the placard will hopefully be printed in a booklet similar to a ticket on a game-by-game basis so that donors do not have to keep up with their passes throughout the year. Other plans include better maps, road signs, and driving directions that will be included to make everyone’s visit more enjoyable.

There are many issues to address this spring and throughout the summer months. With planning early and informing our fans, we can all work towards improving the safety and enjoyment of coming to Clemson in the fall. Be sure to read the Orange & White weekly to get answers to all your parking questions. Next week’s article will cover parking in the reserved numbered lots 2, 3, 5, and 6. Thank you for your support of our student athletes’ education through your commitment to the IPTAY Scholarship Fund and Go Tigers!